[7/17/19] Possible Orca Retirement Sanctuary

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An environmental nonprofit group is hosting a series of public meetings in western Washington to discuss the possibility of creating an enclosure in Washington’s San Juan Islands for orcas retired from theme parks. Leaders of the Whale Sanctuary Project say a cordoned-off bay or cove can also serve as a rehabilitation site if a member of the local orca population is ailing. The first of six meetings began last night in Olympia. Other meetings are in Gig Harbor, Seattle, Friday Harbor and Eastsound, with the final meeting on Lopez Island July 24. Multiple government bodies would be involved in permitting an orca sanctuary once the nonprofit settles on a final location to submit for approval. A spokesman for NOAA Fisheries said that they are interested but reserving judgment until more is known.