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© WDC, gray seal

Shark Week – Cape Cod Bay style

© WDC, gray seal with great white shark bite July 11, 2024 - Yesterday morning,...
Photo credit: Julia Cumes / © IFAW, All activities conducted under a federal stranding agreement between IFAW and NMFS under the MMPA.

WDC supports IFAW during mass stranding

Photo credit: Julia Cumes / © IFAW, All activities conducted under a federal stranding agreement...
North Atlantic right whale #1950 © Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit 24359. Aerial survey funded by United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Right Whale Vessel Strike Protections Sought Nov. 1

July 2, 2024 - Contact: Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, (508) 451-3853, [email protected] Jay...
whale_meat

High levels of toxic contaminants in whale meat sold to public

WDC, together with partner organizations is calling on the Norwegian government to expand comprehensive and...

We <3 Whale Poop: WDC providing support for Orca Scat Project

San Juan Island, Washington. July 22, 2019:

Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) is thrilled to share the news that we are a contributing supporter in 2019 for the Southern Resident Orca Scat Project, a research effort within the University of Washington’s Conservation Canines program.  WDC’s contribution to the program will help support the management and implementation of the summer field season as the Orca Team collects and analyzes scat from the endangered Southern Resident orca community.

Conservation Canine Eba
CK9 Eba is in her first year on the Southern Resident Orca Scat Project

Conservation Canines is part of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington and has been collecting orca scat from Southern Resident orcas since 2008.  This non-invasive research method provides vital information on the threats facing Southern Resident orcas – prey depletion, stress from disturbance and noise, and contaminant levels in orcas.  Information collected and published by the Center for Conservation Biology helps policy managers refine regulations and create better protective measures for Southern Resident orcas.

This unique program relies on rescue dogs with “an insatiable urge to play,” which often means they are too high-energy to be family pets, but makes them ideal working dogs.  It requires an exceptional pup and handler to work as a team on a boat, with a very unique set of circumstances!  The finely-honed technique and communication between dog, handler, boat driver, and sample collectors are vital to working on the water to detect and collect orca scat.

We at WDC make no secret of the fact that we love whale poop – not just because it can help the health of our ocean ecosystem, but also for the vital information it can provide.  Orca scat contains information for both whole populations and for individual orcas – genetic identification, pregnancies, stress, nutritional status, contaminant loads, and parasites.  Eventually the fecal samples will also be analyzed for the presence of microplastics.

WDC on a research boat
WDC's Jessica Rekos Fellow, Colleen Weiler, on the boat with the CK9 team

The Southern Resident Orca Scat Project has provided critical information on when and where the orcas are experiencing nutritional stress, levels of toxic contaminants like DDT and PCBs, and pregnancy occurrence and failure in individual orcas.  The Project contributes to the Southern Resident orca health database, and was part of the effort in the summer of 2018 to diagnose and treat Scarlet (J50).

WDC is proud to support this important research and on-the-ground data collection.

“We rely on the best available scientific information to advocate for the orcas here at WDC, and I am so thrilled that we are able to provide support for this incredible project,” says Colleen Weiler, WDC’s Jessica Rekos Fellow.  “I have been a huge fan of this research program since I learned about their work, and it combines some of my favorite things – dogs, orcas, and science.”

Dr. Deborah Giles, lead researcher for the Orca Scat Project, said “thanks to a generous grant from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology’s Conservation Canines has been able to spend time on the water to train our new scat detection dog, and refresh and hone our skills as a team.  We were ready to respond to the orcas when they came back to the Salish Sea.”

Support for WDC’s Southern Resident Orca project is provided by the generosity of our donors, The Jessica Rekos Foundation, and a grant from Metabolic Studio.  Thank you!!

Provide visual of research effort and team
The 2019 Conservation Canine Orca Scat Project team (not shown: Eba, CK9 pup)

Southern Resident Orcas Receive Oregon Endangered Species Protections

By Caroline Mowdy | 02/16/2024 |

February 16, 2024 – Contact: Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, (508) 451-3853, [email protected] Brady Bradshaw, Center for Biological Diversity, (412) 722-9280, [email protected] Maggie Dewane, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0217, [email protected] PORTLAND, ORE – The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted today to protect Southern Resident orcas under the state’s Endangered Species Act, responding to a…

Take action for Oregon’s orcas

By Caroline Mowdy | 02/08/2024 |

Just 74 endangered Southern Resident orcas remain and they need your voice to increase protections for them. On February 16th, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept public comments on our joint proposal to add Southern Resident orcas to the Oregon Endangered Species List. The listing provides additional opportunities for the State of Oregon…

Endangered Southern Resident orca calf likely deceased

By Caroline Mowdy | 02/01/2024 |

© Center for Whale Research January 29, 2024 – The Center for Whale Research (CWR) reported that a J pod calf, J60, was missing during a recent observation of the group. It is extremely unlikely that the less than 8-week-old calf was off on its own, away from the pod, and therefore it is likely…

Southern Resident orca petition to list them under Oregon Endangered Species Act advanced

By Colleen Weiler | 04/24/2023 |

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted today to advance a petition seeking to protect southern resident orcas under the state Endangered Species Act (ESA). The petition was brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Whale and Dolphin Conservation. In the coming months the commission will conduct a public rulemaking process…

WDC and Conservation Partners Continue to Seek Oregon Endangered Species Protection for Southern Resident Orcas

By Colleen Weiler | 04/17/2023 |

On Friday, April 21st, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will determine whether the petition submitted earlier this year by WDC and our conservation partners Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity to list the Southern Resident orcas under the Oregon Endangered Species Act presents enough information to move forward with the listing. …