The Southern Resident orcas are starving to death.
This unique orca community is down to just 80 individuals in the wild. We’ve lost two important adult females – the young, reproductive-aged J28, and the matriarch J14 – and one young calf just since the end of summer. As wild salmon populations continue to decline in the Pacific Northwest, the Southern Resident orcas are losing their primary source of food – Chinook salmon. This group of orcas is different from all other orca populations in the world. Their culture, community, and identity are inextricably linked to the Pacific Northwest and another icon of the region, salmon.
Will you join our #MigrationNation? We have a new opportunity to restore America’s greatest salmon river and help the endangered salmon and orcas of the Pacific Northwest.
Decimated by live captures in the 1960s and 70s, the Southern Residents lost at least 40% of their population to the captivity industry. Of all the Southern Resident orcas taken from the wild, only Tokitae is still alive today, languishing as the solitary orca, “Lolita,” at the Miami Seaquarium. The Southern Residents never fully recovered from these wild captures, and now as their main food supply continues to decline, Tokitae’s family is suffering. The Southern Residents are dwindling, their population growing smaller as individuals and family groups are lost. We must act now to save the Southern Resident orcas from extinction.
The Columbia/Snake River system was once one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world, but now has the highest number of dams in any river. All of the Snake River salmon populations are facing extinction, blocked from historical habitat by four “deadbeat” dams in Washington State: Ice Harbor, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, and Lower Granite dams. These dams impede the journey of salmon between the ocean and the pristine, protected, cold water streams of central Idaho and the Snake River drainage. Scientists say that removing those four dams is the best thing we can do to save salmon in the Snake River – and restoring salmon populations is the best thing we can do to stop the Southern Resident orcas from being starved, and dammed, to extinction.
Following a federal court ruling in May of 2016, the agencies responsible for dam operations in the Columbia River Basin must create a new plan to restore wild salmon populations impacted by the dams. Removing the four Lower Snake River dams must be considered in the development of this plan. We have a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our voice heard in this process and demand real action to restore salmon, Pacific Northwest ecosystems, and help the Southern Resident orcas.
The Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bonneville Power Administration are accepting public comments on a new plan for dam operations until January 17, 2017 and we are asking you to weigh in! WDC is a voice for the Southern Resident orcas in this process, and we must make sure that their needs are considered in the plan for salmon recovery. These Agencies have delayed and ignored the science long enough.
Are you part of the #MigrationNation? Healthy rivers help salmon, orcas, and people too! Don’t let orcas be dammed. Whales.org/dam #freetheSnake