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‘Tis the Season to be Eco-Friendly

Yesterday, I was walking through the aisles of holiday supplies at a local store when...
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My Gratitude List: Whales, Dolphins, and YOU

That is until one day when I saw a different kind of article that piqued...
Dolphin in captivity

Ending whale and dolphin captivity in the US – how our fight continues

Canada banned whale and dolphin captivity last year, leaving two facilities holding captive individuals: Vancouver...
Sperm whale

From Whaling to Whale Watching

One topic I find myself always coming back to is how our view of whales...
whale-silhouette-vector

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President, I am writing to you on behalf of the marine mammals who...
Clearwater Marine Aquarium NOAA permit #20556-01

Did I see my last right whale? Not yet.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, I haven’t seen a right whale this...
Southern resident orca_CWR_Rob Lott

New babies bring hope for endangered Southern Resident orcas

A silver lining of this strange year was the news that Tahlequah, the orca who...
Southern resident orca_CWR_Rob Lott

Why do female orcas live so long after they stop having babies?

Orcas are one of only five species known to experience menopause and females can live...

Southern Resident orca population is missing two members

We are saddened to learn that two members of the Southern Resident orca population in the Pacific Northwest are unaccounted for this year and are presumed dead.  Two members of L pod, Lulu and Indigo, have not been seen with their families this summer.  The annual census of this population, which started in the mid-70’s, has been able to get a complete head count of Southern Residents every year due to their small population size and proximity to a heavily populated coastal area in the summer. 

Southern Residents are highly social and form very close family groups, with both males and females staying with their mother their entire lives.  This population ranges as far south as central California during the winter months but returns to the inland waters of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands every summer.  Large salmon runs this year have kept the orcas close to San Juan Island in Haro Strait, one of their favorite feeding grounds. 

 Orcas are threatened by declining numbers of their favorite food, Chinook salmon; by toxins like DDT in the water, which accumulate up the food chain until they stops at orcas, a top level predator; and by increasing amounts of vessel traffic and noise in the ocean.  The Southern Resident population suffered a sharp decline in the late 1990’s when Chinook salmon levels crashed.  L pod, the largest of the three Southern Resident pods, has continued to decline since then, while J & K pods have seen slight increases.  Last year, two more members of L pod, Grace and Baba, were missing and have not been seen since.

 The loss of 4 members of L pod over the past 2 years brings the population total to only 78 members, the lowest it has been in almost 20 years.  Unfortunately, because whales die at sea and their bodies are rarely found, we will likely never know what happened to them.  But we can increase conservation efforts to protect their habitat and their prey, and try to get that population number going back up.