This June was an exceptionally busy and exciting Orca Month, starting with a somewhat surprising but wonderful return to their summer home waters by J pod of the Southern Resident orca population. Orca Month is celebrated in June to align with the time the orcas historically returned to the Salish Sea, but in recent years they have been coming back later and spending less time in their traditional home waters. Visits by J and L pod to mark the beginning and end of the month was a welcome sight for orca fans – almost, but not quite like “old times.”
2022’s theme was “Stream to Sea,” celebrating the connection between the rivers and watersheds throughout the Southern Resident orcas’ range that support the wild salmon and clean water that Southern Residents need to survive. Each week of Orca Month highlighted a different region of the orcas’ home, sharing information on its rivers, challenges, and success stories.
WDC’s Orca Month Happy Hour chats highlighted a partner organization working on salmon and river recovery – from the coastal protected area that shelter young fish to innovative watershed management techniques in California’s vast Central Valley system.
We joined our colleagues in the Orca Salmon Alliance for a special webinar on landmark legislation turning 50 this year, and had our first in-person Orca Month event in two years (!!) for the Oregon premiere of Coextinction, a heartfelt new documentary about the Southern Resident orcas.
We were also thrilled to have our third annual Orca Month Book Club, discussing “then and now” of the Snake River dams – very timely with a new opportunity to take action to support dam breaching. In June (we’ll claim it in celebration of Orca Month), Washington Governor Inslee and Senator Patty Murray released the first phase of their plan to recover salmon in the Columbia-Snake River: a draft report that examines what is needed to breach the Lower Snake River dams and replace the services they provide.
We invite you to take one more action for Orca Action Month and join us in calling for this report to include breaching the Lower Snake River dams: click here to send an email.
Restoring the Snake River is our best and biggest chance for salmon recovery on the West Coast to get more food in the ocean for Southern Resident orcas. This report clearly shows that the services provided by the Lower Snake River dams can be replaced and needs to be part of the plan.
We are continuing to see forward movement on restoring the Snake River, and we need Northwest elected officials to commit to urgent and effective actions. Wrap up your Orca Action Month by speaking up for Southern Resident orcas, no matter where you live, and asking them to take action.
As always, even though another exciting Orca Month has come to an end, our work continues! June is a time of celebration, but recovery happens year-round. For the Southern Resident orcas, every month is Orca Month!