June is Orca Awareness Month!

Welcome to Orca Month!  The third annual celebration for WDC and 12th overall focuses on sharing the story of the endangered Southern Resident orcas and inspiring people to take action to protect them.

After the Southern Resident orcas were added to the endangered species list in 2005, longtime orca education and advocacy group Orca Network founded Orca Awareness Month to bring together orca fans and raise awareness of the threats to this unique community.

With only 76 members left in the population (and Tokitae, the last surviving Southern Resident orca to be held in captivity), the Southern Resident population is at its lowest point in over 30 years.  Threatened by a lack of prey, contaminants in their home waters, and increasing acoustic and physical disturbance, now is the time to take action to protect these iconic orcas and their home.

Southern Resident orcas
The Southern Residents, seen here against the Seattle skyline, are the most urban orca population in the world

Sound the Alarm

This year’s unifying theme for Orca Month asks people to speak up, raise their voices, and make changes to help the Southern Residents.  WDC is a founding member of the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA), which has been co-sponsoring Orca Month since 2016, helping reach even more people in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  This year, we’ve developed a specific list of actions we are urging the newly-formed Southern Resident Recovery Task Force in Washington State to consider.  These actions are not unique to Washington, and can help the Southern Residents anywhere in their range.  So if you’re a resident of a West Coast state or British Columbia, please reach out to your state officials and ask them to take action to save the Southern Residents.

WDC is the leading group for Orca Month events in Oregon, and we work to share the Southern Residents’ story and engage Oregonians in efforts to protect the Southern Residents and their coastal home. This year, we’re celebrating in Oregon with documentary screenings, a “pints and science” pub talk, coordinating a regional beach cleanup with partners in Washington, and joining World Oceans Day at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  We’ll also have information available at various locations along the Oregon Coast.

Orca Month is for everyone, even if you’re an orca lover living far away from the Northwest.  You can share their story with your friends and family, and reach out to your elected officials to ask them to protect the things that help Southern Resident orcas – the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, funds for salmon restoration, and support for coastal and watershed recovery.  Every voice is needed, and every voice matters, if we are to save this unique and wonderful community of orcas that we’re lucky to know as neighbors.

And remember, no matter where you are, you live in a watershed.  Your choices and actions do impact the ocean, even if you’re land-locked!  You can take action this month to help orcas, they salmon they depend on, and the waters they live in.

However you choose to celebrate Orca Month, we hope you’ll let us know, and join us to Sound the Alarm for Southern Resident orcas.

WDC’s Orca Month events and efforts would not be possible without support from the Jessica Rekos Foundation.

Southern Resident orcas K pod at sunset
Members of K pod swim against a sunset backdrop