Looking at the year ahead for Southern Resident orcas
I’m excited for 2022 - I’m optimistic that this is going to be the year we turn the tide for Southern Resident orcas, and I’m eager to dive in and keep propelling our efforts forward. We’ll need all hands on deck to make sure these amazing whales have what they need to survive.
What we accomplished in 2021:
Restoring the Snake River, home to a crucial source of food for the Southern Residents, has been a priority for WDC for a long time.
We’ve been working with multiple partners in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S. to urge action by elected leaders, federal agencies, and even Presidential Administrations to remove the four lower Snake River dams.
After years of effort – and decades of campaigning by some of our partners – we finally saw some significant progress in 2021.
Multiple elected officials in Washington and Idaho announced plans to revisit Snake River restoration, digging in to figure out what is needed to remove the dams, replace their services, and restore Snake River salmon. This year, we’re asking for their commitment to removing the Snake River dams.
WHY we need to remove the dams:
Removing the dams and replacing the services they provide with more affordable and sustainable alternatives helps salmon, Southern Resident orcas, Native peoples of the Northwest, and communities throughout the region.
Abundant and available salmon are critical for the survival of the Southern Resident orcas throughout their range. The Columbia-Snake Basin was once home to the most Chinook salmon on the West Coast, and still provides a crucial source of food for the orcas.
These salmon are vital to helping expectant orca mothers carry calves to term and sustaining the community through the winter months.
Dams in the Snake River have devastated its salmon by changing conditions in the river, impeding their passage to and from the ocean, and adding stress to an already difficult life.
Looking ahead to 2022:
We’re really encouraged by the steps forward in 2021, and we’re working to make 2022 the year that the decision is finally made to take down the Snake River dams.
We will need our supporters to be loud and consistent voices speaking up for the Southern Resident orcas and reminding decision-makers that this decision affects them, too – and they need Snake River salmon to survive.
We want people to speak up no matter where they live, because you care about the Southern Resident orcas and their future, and decision-makers need to hear that.
We’ll be sharing more actions soon and throughout winter and spring. You can get started by sending an email through our DoGooder Action tool, then sign up to be an Orca Hero to be one of the first people we call on to take action for the Southern Resident orcas.
Southern Resident orcas need Snake River salmon, and we need your help to make sure these salmon have a chance at recovery. Let’s make 2022 the final year of the Snake River dams.
QUICK FACTS ON THE SNAKE RIVER DAMS
- The mouth of the Columbia River is a high-use area for the Southern Residents in the late winter and early spring, when spring Chinook salmon are returning.
- High miscarriage rates and poor body condition in the orcas have been linked to nutritional stress, especially in the late winter and early spring.
- More than half of the Chinook salmon eaten by the orcas in their coastal habitat come from the Columbia Basin.
- Columbia Basin salmon that pass fewer dams have higher survival rates than Snake River salmon
- Breaching the Snake River dams provides more certainty of long-term survival for its salmon than any other action
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