Orca Awareness Month
For over a decade, Washington State has celebrated Orca Awareness Month. Launched in 2006 by Orca Network, Orca Month raises awareness of the endangered Southern Resident orca population and the need to help them recover to a healthy population level. The celebration has taken many forms, from orca wine dedications to orca songs, dances, and gubernatorial proclamations, all to focus attention on the plight of this unique community of orcas, found only off the west coasts of the US and Canada. Orca Month is a time to celebration the presence of orcas off our coast, and inspire action to address the many threats facings this fragile population.
ORCA MONTH HISTORY
Orca Awareness Month, started by long-time orca conservation group Orca Network, was created to bring together researchers, advocates, and orca fans everywhere to raise the awareness of the threats facing these magnificent whales and provide a community to celebrate the orcas of the Salish Sea.
This year, as Orca Month approaches again, the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) will help make the 12th anniversary of Orca Month as big and great as it can be! We will focus on events and activities that educate the public about the threats to the Southern Residents and Chinook salmon; topics will include the need to restore habitat for Chinook, expanding recovery of the river systems, the impacts of pollution on salmon and orcas, and other unique threats faced by the most urban orca population in the world. This year’s Orca Month celebrations have expanded into Oregon and British Columbia, to further highlight the presence of the Southern Residents off the entire Northwest coast and help introduce more people their orca neighbors.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation, as part of the Orca Salmon Alliance, is working on increasing awareness about the importance of the Oregon and Northern California coasts to the Southern Residents. These orcas rely on Chinook from every salmon-producing river on the west coast, and action is needed in these states as well to help save the Southern Residents and their favorite food.
The Orca Salmon Alliance encourages everyone to take part: Orca Month is for every orca fan out there! June is a chance to celebrate one of our nation’s most iconic whales, and an opportunity to work together to restore the habitat that orcas, salmon, and people call home.
The Southern Resident orcas have had a couple of devastating years. After celebrating the births of eight new calves in the population in 2015, the small population had some heartbreaking losses in 2016 and 2017, including the matriarch of the Southern Residents, Granny (J2), and a young calf just over two years old, Sonic (J52). With just 76 individuals left, the survival of every individual in this critically endangered community is vital for their future.
Sound the Alarm for orcas!
The Task Force must be guided by an overall goal of growing and managing healthy, resilient, connected, and functional ecosystems. Continued and expanded reliance on technologies and human interventions – rather than on ecosystem restoration – will unlikely meet the needs of salmon, orcas, or people.
This year our call to action is to speak up for orcas, and endorse an action agenda for the Washington State Task Force. We're asking for orcas to focus on restoring a healthy, resilient, connected, and functional ecosystem to support the survival of the Southern Residents. It has been nearly two decades since many of the Chinook runs within the Southern Residents’ range were listed under the Endangered Species Act, and thirteen years since the Southern Residents themselves were listed, yet the future of this unique community of orcas still hangs by a thread. The goal of our Orca Month celebration is to raise awareness about their struggle and provide calls to action to make a difference for these two icons of the Northwest - review our recommendations and add your support here!
2018 Orca Awareness Month Events
For additional information on times, venues, registration, and the full calendar of events, please visit orcamonth.com.
June 3 – *featured event* - Orca Month Kick-off: Sound the Alarm for orcas | Seattle | Golden Gardens | Orca Salmon Alliance
June 2 – Orca Month Art and Authors Walk | Langley
June 7 - Our Toxic Orcas| Everett | Ocean Research College Academy
June 9 - Hour for the Ocean | Alki Beach, San Juan Island, Whidbey Island
June 10 – Whales in Your Neighborhood| Salish Sea - multiple locations
June 15 - Toki's Journey Home | Langley | Langley Whale Center
June 16 – What's the Point? | Whatcom County | Point Whitehorn Park
June 16 - Stand up for Lolita | Seattle | Pier 56
June 23 - Orca Sing | San Juan Island | Lime Kiln State Park
June 23 – Port Townsend Orca Festival | Port Townsend | Fort Worden State Park
June 23 – Kids for Orcas | Langley | Langley Whale Center
June 24 & 25 - Orca Awareness Celebration | Seattle | Seattle Aquarium
June 28 - Orcas Need Free-Flowing Rivers | Seattle | Patagonia Ballard
June 1-30 – Orca Book Display | Victoria | Library branches
June 2-30 – Salish Sea Art Show | Victoria | Caffe Misto
June 16 – Orca Hat Craft | Victoria| Central Library
June 23 – Plastics in the Ocean | Victoria | Oak Bay Green Committee Recycling Depot
May 27 - Orca Awareness Day | Newport | Hatfield Marine Science Center
June 7 - Sonic Sea screening | Newport | Rogue Brewer's on the Bay
June 12 – Orca Pub Talk: Southern Resident orcas and Conservation Canines | Portland | Lucky Labrador Brewpub
June 19 – DamNation screening | Newport | Rogue Btewer's on the Bay
June 30 – World Oceans Day | Newport | Oregon Coast Aquarium
Get into the Orca Month mood by revisiting WDC’s Orca Month 2016 webinar with orca experts D.A. Giles (Center for Whale Research), Juliana Houghton (Army Corps of Engineers), Jared Towers (Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans), and Paul Spong and Helena Symonds (OrcaLab). Enjoy! WDC’s Orca Month activities can only happen with generous help from you – our supporters – and sponsorship from the Jessica Rekos Foundation.