Skip to content
All articles
  • All articles
  • About whales & dolphins
  • Create healthy seas
  • End captivity
  • Fundraising
  • Green Whale
  • Prevent bycatch
  • Prevent deaths in nets
  • Stop whaling
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.

Climate giants – how whales can help save the world

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,...

Sad News for the Southern Residents

L120, the new calf who was just born in early September, has sadly gone missing and is assumed to have died.  L120 was the first new calf in the critically endangered Southern Resident population since 2012, and offered some hope for the group after two other members of L pod were confirmed missing and likely deceased this summer.

L120 was the third calf for Surprise! (L86), but was not seen with Mom in recent sightings by the Center for Whale Research, the organization that maintains the annual census of the Southern Residents.  Surprise’s second calf, Sooke (L112), died in February 2012 at 3 years old, and a necropsy revealed signs of severe acoustic trauma.

Southern Resident orcas are threatened by biocontamination – the accumulation of toxins and pollutants in their environment and subsequently in their bodies – and calves often bear the brunt of this danger as nursing mothers metabolize and offload their own toxic buildup through their milk.  Prey depletion is also a major threat to Southern Residents, and prey shortages can intensify the effects of other threats. Numbers of their preferred prey, Chinook salmon, have declined drastically in the Salish Sea and in rivers along the west coast in the last century.  Many salmon populations are endangered, threatened by habitat degradation and the loss of access to spawning grounds.  Increased vessel noise and traffic can cause acoustic masking for the orcas, making it more difficult to forage and locate prey.

 This heartbreaking loss brings the Southern Resident population down to just 78 individuals, 20 members less than their peak count in 1995, and 10 fewer than when they were added to the Endangered Species List in 2005.  To help these beautiful and iconic whales recover, we must address the threats on multiple fronts – help restore salmon populations and habitat, reduce the amount of toxins both already in and entering our oceans, and minimize stress from vessel noise and traffic.  The amplifying effect of each threat upon the others means that there is no easy fix or single problem to solve.  It’s a complicated battle, but one worth fighting so we can give the next new calf their best chance at survival.