Orca Whale Morgan’s Proposed Sea Pen is Embraced by Community and is Close to Wild Orcas

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Morgan's life hangs in the balance.

“A juvenile killer whale called Morgan was found alone in Dutch waters on June 23, 2010 and has been cared for since then by the Harderwijk Dolphinarium. Now that Morgan appears to be in good health, the Free Morgan Support Group , together with a global team of experts, has presented a solid plan to return her to her native habitat. The plan was designed and endorsed by scientists and experts in orca physiology, behaviour and acoustics.” This whale faces a life in captivity and will be sent to Loro Parque, Spain if the judgement is against her. The decision is scheduled be made public on Monday, November 21st, 2011.
Morgan’s potential sea pen pictured below.

Proposed site for Morgan's rehabilitation and release.

Stø Harbour and surrounds. Arrow indicates approximate location of barrier net for Morgan’s sea-pen. Photo courtesy and © Per S. Nielsen (2007).

The following are exerpts from “Stø Community Visit by Free Morgan Foundation”, unpublished Report by van Twillert, Jan & Visser, Ingrid N. . Prepared by Free Morgan Foundation, 19 November 2011. Available from www.freemorgan.org.
The location of Stø, in northern Norway, is an ideal location for the implementation of the Rehabilitation and Release Plan. The area provides not only all the logistical requirements but is also a prime habitat for orca, with sightings regularly reported within a 10 km range of the harbour and site for the rehabilitation sea-pen. In addition, the local community of Stø sees Morgan’s return to these waters, as not only a benefit to the Stø Community in terms of possible economic benefit, but also it is clear that they genuinely care about the marine environment and its inhabitants.
The fishing village Stø is situated at 68° north, approximately 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. It is a small active fishing community with approximately 200 inhabitants. It is situated in Øksnes Municipality, (Nordland County). The Municipality has a population of approximately 4,500 people, of which roughly 2,800 live in Myre, the administration centre.

This small, remote village in Norway embraces the opportunity to help Morgan. Standing in front of a life-size Minke whale model at the township of Myre are Camilla Ilmoni (Arctic Whale Tours, Manager), Jan van Twillert (FMF), Dr Ingrid N. Visser (FMF) and the Øksnes Municipality Mayor, Mr Jørn Martinussen. Photo © FMF, by Lauri Heiskanen (Arctic Whale Tours) (2011)

Stø resident, Unni K. Berglund, stated that “This is a very interesting project for Stø and I do hope that we can get Morgan to us. She really deserves to be set free and we all wish to her welcome back home.” Another resident,Sabine Schwab, stated “I have always liked orcas but looking at the pictures of Morgan in that tiny barren tank, I so desperately want to see her out of there and swimming free in the open ocean, here at Stø.”
During the entire visit by the FMF the Stø Community were remarkably positive and excited about the potential of helping Morgan on her quest for freedom and her ultimate return to the wild. Offers of support, logistical assistance, equipment provision, accommodation hire, donation of time and expertise were free-flowing and constant. Any challenges that the FMF presented, such as the placement location of the sea-pen were met with interest and dialogue with all such challenges having solutions presented and/or alternatives offered.
One of the fisherman’s wives, Ellinor Ulriksen, who has been living in Stø for almost 40 years stated “I hope Morgan can come back to us and be set free. The Free Morgan Foundation has done a fantastic job in helping her.”
From the mayor:  “I am very positive about Morgan coming to our community. I will personally look forward to helping on her road to freedom.”

Springer, another orca who was captured, released, and reunited successfully. She still swims wild and free. (Photo Courtesy Leah Robinson, Orcalab Aug 16 2011)

Please contact the Free Morgan Foundation and The Orca Coalition for more information.

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