Our old friend Jodi Smith has started a nonprofit research organization in Eureka, Calif., where she hopes to specialize in observing killer whales along the West Coast.

Jodi could use our help in getting some funding from Pepsi, which I’ll explain in a moment.

Longtime Kitsap County residents and others may remember Jodi from her time in Dyes Inlet in 1997, when she made exhausting observations about 19 L-pod orcas that showed up suddenly and stayed a full month just before Thanksgiving. (See the Kitsap Sun project on the 10th anniversary of that event.)

Jodi, who received a degree in cetology (whale and dolphin studies) from Evergreen State College in Olympia, had trained herself to recognize every Southern Resident killer whale on sight. I remember her precise observations about the movements of the orcas among boats in Dyes Inlet as they seriously crowded the whales at times.

Later, she conducted studies for boat-whale interactions in the San Juan Islands before spending nearly three years in New Zealand. There, she added vessel interactions with Australian humpbacks to earn a master’s degree in conservation biology from Massey University.

Jodi hopes to help document information about the endangered orcas that depart from Puget Sound in the winter and travel down the coast of Oregon and California. Infrequent sightings have been made as far as south as Monterey Bay, but there is a serious lack of information about where the whales go and what they eat during winter months.

She is also prepared to involve volunteers and offer public education and school programs about whales and other conservation issues as needs present themselves.

Jodi has named her new organization Naked Whale Research. So, I wondered, does that mean the researchers are studying only whales that have no clothes, or do the researchers conduct their investigations au naturel.

“I did not want to use the word ‘orca,’ and I wanted to distinguish this from other types of whales,” Jodi told me. “It’s just plain old research.”

Conveniently, the shortened nickname “Na-Wa-Re” has its own special meaning, she said.

“Na is a Haida word that means ‘to exist or dwell,’” she explained. “Whare is a Maori word for ‘place of dwelling along a beach.’” Haida are a group of native people in the Pacific Northwest, and Maori are natives of New Zealand.

Naked Whale Research has a newly appointed board of directors and has received a nonprofit certification from the state of California.

Jodi could our votes to obtain startup funding through Pepsi’s Great Ideas Program. She is seeking $250,000 in grants. To advance for further consideration, her program must get into the top 100 by the end of the month. The proposal, which is explained on a special website, has climbed rapidly but now stands at 122 with just three days left to vote. If you’re interested in helping, go to the link above. You can vote once a day for each e-mail address you have.

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Source: Watching Our Water Ways

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