Orcas Wild Interpretative Center opens in Eastsound

A mosasaur fossil featured at the center. Mosasaurs were giant

Orcas Wild, a new interpretive wildlife center, is opening in Eastsound across from the Episcopal Church on Main Street.

Demi Gary, a naturalist, boat captain and executive director of Orcas Wild, said the center is a place for “learning and discovering.”

It will be open to the public on May 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Watch the Sounder for information about the grand opening on June 9.

Visitors to Orcas Wild will find installments of visual posters by local naturalists. There will also be interactive elements to the center like a video area for screening of films donated by the Center for Whale Research and iPads equipped with whale sounds to show the diversity of each animal’s “voice.”

“They have languages like people,” said Gary. “We also want people to see how whales are an important part of the ecosystem.”

There will also be a gift shop showcasing items from local artists. What will probably be one of the most popular aspects of the center will be the tide pools “touch tank” created by Russel Barsh, director of the Lopez-based science laboratory Kwiaht. There will be a rotation of different creatures found in the inner tidal zone of the Salish Sea like sea stars, mussels, anemones, fish and urchins. The pools will be manned by staff trained by Barsh.

“It’s basically a mini version of Indian Island,” said Gary.

There will also be an opportunity for free walking tours of Indian Island to see wildlife in action.

As scientists working with the general public, Gary said Orcas Wild’s greatest challenge will be to reach people in a language that everyone can understand.

She hopes the interpretive center will help people get more in touch with the natural world, which includes vital sea life like the southern resident orcas population and chinook salmon, leading people to think critically when it comes to new oil pipelines or oil spills.

“We want people to leave feeling like they have learned something,” said Gary.

For more info, visit www.orcaswild.com.