Critically endangered orcas need salmon to survive

Migration Nation

As of January 2017, the Southern Residents have just 78 members in their population – this small community is living on the edge of extinction.

Southern Resident orcas depend on healthy and abundant wild stocks of Chinook salmon – the largest and fattiest of all the different kinds of salmon.  As Chinook numbers decrease, Southern Resident mortality rates increase, and starving orcas are less able to cope with the stress brought on by the other top threats to their survival, toxins and vessel effects. 

Center for Whale Research Chinook abundance and Southern Resident mortality

(Image: Center for Whale Research)

 Prey depletion, noise & disturbances, and biocontamination

The Columbia River system was one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world, home to an estimated 10-16 million fish each year.  Today, salmon abundance is a fraction of what it once was, and the majority of fish are hatchery-produced.  Wild stocks are continuing to plummet as they try to survive in a river that has been greatly altered from its natural state.

The four lower Snake River dams stand between the Columbia River and the high-elevation, pristine, protected wilderness of the Snake River drainage.  Removing these dams restores access to an area salmon experts believe offers Columbia Basin salmon their best chance of recovery.  Earlier this year, a Federal Court ruled that the latest federal plan for protecting endangered salmon in the Columbia Basin was fatally flawed.  Now, for the first time in over a decade, the public has an opportunity to weigh in on a new plan and insist on real action for salmon in the Northwest.

This is an historic opportunity to restore an entire river ecosystem, help wild salmon populations recover, and boost the primary food supply for the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas. 

Through February 7th, 2017, federal agencies will be holding public meetings and will be accepting comments to gather public input on a new plan to manage dams in the Columbia Basin.  Add your name to demand action on the Snake River to help the Southern Resident orcas!  WDC is the voice for the orcas in this process – we must make sure their needs and the greater ecosystem impact of salmon survival is considered by the federal agencies.

Please sign our letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bonneville Power Administration to ask for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. 

We have a chance to make history and save the river, the salmon, and the Southern Resident orcas.

Latest News:

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Washington: State of Salmon

3 Dams to be Removed in American West to Restore Rivers

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