Orca Awareness Month
2017 will be 11th year that Washington State has celebrated Orca Awareness Month. Started over a decade ago by Susan Berta and Howard Garrett of Orca Network, Orca Month raises awareness of the endangered Southern Resident orca population and the need to help them recover to a healthy population level. The celebration has taken many forms, from orca wine dedications to orca songs, dances, and gubernatorial proclamations, all to focus attention on the plight of this unique community of orcas, found only off the west coasts of the US and Canada. Orca Month is a time to celebration the presence of orcas off our coast, and inspire action to address the many threats facings this fragile population.
ORCA MONTH HISTORY
Orca Awareness Month, started by long-time orca conservation group Orca Network, was created to bring together researchers, advocates, and orca fans everywhere to raise the awareness of the threats facing these magnificent whales and provide a community to celebrate the orcas of the Salish Sea.
This year, as Orca Month approaches again, the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) will help make the 11th anniversary of Orca Month as big and great as it can be! We will focus on events and activities that educate the public about the threats to the Southern Residents and Chinook salmon; topics will include the need to restore habitat for Chinook, expanding recovery of the Columbia River system (including the Snake River) the impacts of pollution on salmon and orcas, and other unique threats faced by the most urban orca population in the world. This year’s Orca Month celebrations have expanded into Oregon and British Columbia, to further highlight the presence of the Southern Residents off the entire Northwest coast.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation, as part of the Orca Salmon Alliance, is working on increasing awareness about the importance of the Oregon and Northern California coasts to the Southern Residents. These orcas rely on Chinook from every salmon-producing river on the west coast, and action is needed in these states as well to help save the Southern Residents and their favorite food.
The Orca Salmon Alliance encourages everyone to take part: Orca Month is for every orca fan out there! June is a chance to celebrate one of our nation’s most iconic whales, and an opportunity to work together to restore the habitat that orcas, salmon, and people call home.
2016 was a devastating year for the Southern Resident orcas. Last year at this time, we were celebrating the births of eight new calves in the population. This year, we are mourning the deaths of seven orcas, including the matriarch of the Southern Residents, Granny (J2). With just 78 individuals as of March 2017, the survival of every individual in this critically endangered community is vital for their future.
No Fish, No Blackfish
The main message of the Orca Salmon Alliance challenges others to think about salmon recovery in terms of the foundation of nutrition that salmon give to numerous other species and ecosystems in the Pacific Northwest, including our beloved fish-eating Southern Resident orcas. It has been nearly two decades since many of the Chinook runs within the Southern Residents’ range were listed under the Endangered Species Act, and almost twelve years since the Southern Residents themselves were listed, yet the future of this unique community of orcas still hangs by a thread. The goal of our Orca Month celebration is to raise awareness about their struggle and provide calls to action to make a difference for these two icons of the Northwest.
2017 Orca Awareness Month Events
This year's theme is the aptly named 'Orcas in Troubled Waters,’ and we will gather to raise awareness about the plight of the Southern Residents and celebrate the long, amazing life of the oldest-known orca, Granny. Below are Orca Month 2017 events and more info on how to get involved in Orca Month.
For additional information on times, venues, registration, and the full calendar of events, please visit orcamonth.com.
June 4 – *featured event* - Orca Month Kick-off and Celebration of Granny (J2) | Seattle | Golden Gardens | Orca Salmon Alliance
June 1 – Green Drinks | Tacoma | Harmon Brewery | Washington Environmental Council
June 1 - "The Unknown Sea" film screening | Burien | Washington Environmental Council, Deep Green Wilderness, SR3, Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Science Center
June 3 - Whales in Your Neighborhood | Parks around the Salish Sea | Orca Network, Whale Scout, The Whale Trail
June 3 - The Day of the Orca | Port Townsend | Port Townsend Marine Science Center
June 10 – Orcas In Our Midst Workshop| Langley | Orca Network |
June 10 – Hour for the Ocean: Beach Cleanup | Seattle | Seattle Aquarium, Puget Soundkeeper, Whale Scout
June 13 - Orcas Love Raingardens | Tacoma | Washington Environmental Council, Defenders of Wildlife
June 22 – Project ECHO | Seattle | The Whale Trail
June 24 - Orca Sing | San Juan Island | Lime Kiln Point State Park
June 24-25 - Orca Awareness Weekend | Seattle | Seattle Aquarium
June 25 – Two if By Land, One if By Sea: Oil Transport Threatens the Salish Sea | Bellingham | RE Sources, Washington Environmental Council, BayKeeper, Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, and Friends of the San Juans
June 28 – Our Toxic Orcas | Tacoma | Washington Environmental Council, Defenders of Wildlife, and Toxic Free WA
Throughout June - Naturalists on the Ferries: Find naturalists aboard many Washington State Ferries to learn more about Southern Resident orcas and the Salish Sea | Washington State Ferries and Orca Network
May 28 – Orca Month Proclamation | City of Victoria Council Chambers
June 3 – Orca Hat Craft | Victoria Central Library
June 14 – "Marine Night" at Churchmouse Coffeehouse | Victoria
June 17 – Orca Celebration and Action Day | Victoria | Orca Month BC
June 20 – Retire Lolita Demonstration | Victoria
June 17 – Orca Awareness Day | Newport | Hatfield Marine Science Center | American Cetacean Society
WDC is taking Orca Month international this year with our fundraising event Gamers for Orcas! Find out more about how to participate.
Get into the Orca Month mood by revisiting WDC’s Orca Month 2016 webinar with orca experts D.A. Giles (Center for Whale Research), Juliana Houghton (Army Corps of Engineers), Jared Towers (Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans), and Paul Spong and Helena Symonds (OrcaLab). Enjoy! WDC’s Orca Month activities can only happen with generous help from you – our supporters – and sponsorship from the Jessica Rekos Foundation.