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We need whale poo 📷 WDC NA

Whales are our climate allies – meet the scientists busy proving it

At Whale and Dolphin Conservation, we're working hard to bring whales and the ocean into...

It’s Time To Breach The Snake River Dams

The Snake River dams were controversial even before they were built.  While they were still...
Save the whale. Save the world.

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We know that whales, dolphins, and porpoises are amazing beings with complex social and family...
Nat Geo for Disney+ Luis Lamar

Five Facts About Orcas

Orcas, also known as killer whales, are one of the most recognizable and popular species...
Alexi Archer cropped

Meet the 2022 Interns: Alexi Archer

I am thrilled to welcome Alexi to WDC as the newest member of our Marine...
Saya

Meet the 2022 Interns: Saya Butani

I'm happy to welcome the newest member of the WDC team, Saya Butani, who is...
Block Island wind credit: Regina Asutis-Silvia

Offshore Wind: Don’t Blow It

Recently, new areas were added to the growing list of potential sites for offshore wind...
Sierra

Meet the 2022 Interns: Sierra Osborne

I'm delighted to introduce WDC's Conservation Education intern for Summer 2022, Sierra Osborne! Without hesitation,...

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.