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What we can do to save Southern Resident orcas

We’ve been hearing from many of you that you’re heartbroken about the loss of a newborn calf in the critically endangered Southern Resident orca community – we are, too.  It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to watch this tragedy unfold – sadness for the whales, angry at delayed action to save this unique community, anxiety that we may lose them forever.  But what we feel pales in comparison to what this family of orcas must be feeling as they watch another one of their own slip away.

As of yesterday (July 30th), Tahlequah (J35) was still carrying her dead baby, who was a female, through the waters of the Salish Sea.  As she is mourning the loss of her young, it is time for us to take action before we mourn the loss of the entire community. 

The challenges facing the Southern Resident orcas are complicated and often political.  And it can be frustrating to wait on the policy changes that will bring about protection and restoration of the ecosystem the orcas and the salmon they depend on need to survive.  But a sweeping change in policy – of how we live with and manage our salmon rivers, our coastal ecosystems, and our shared waters – is what is needed to ensure the future of this community of orcas.  Continuing with the status quo will not save the Southern Residents.  Bold, creative, and determined action from our elected leaders, communities in the Northwest, and Federal agencies is needed now more than ever, throughout the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and California, before we witness another tragedy unfold.

Here are five things you can do today to help Southern Resident orcas:

1. Use your voice

  • Submit your comment directly to the Task Force and demand that they: 
    • fully and fairly consider ALL options to protect these whales.
    • do NOT to give in to special interest groups.
    • Take immediate action to help the Southern Residents and the salmon they depend on now, including ensuring the orcas have access to the salmon currently available. 
  • Reach out to your own elected officials and ask them to oppose any harmful changes to the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which provide crucial protections to this endangered population

2. Clean up your act

  • Take steps in your home to reduce the amount of contaminants entering the watershed. 
    • switch to natural household cleaning products
    • build your own backyard raingarden to filter out pollutants.

3. Choose your fish

  • Opt for salmon other than Chinook – try pink or chum salmon that are more plentiful.  If you do buy Chinook, make sure it’s from a sustainable fishery (the best kind is caught rivers in Alaska).
  • Say no to farmed salmon.

4. Add your name

5. Engage your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, everyone! 

  • Share the story of the Southern Residents and why they’re endangered.  The more people who know and love these orcas and demand action on their behalf, the better chance we have at saving them.