photo credit: Center for Whale Research

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Southern Resident Orca Recovery

A SPECIES IN CRISIS

Puget Sound’s Southern Resident orcas became the focus of international attention in the summer of 2018, when their plummeting numbers and critical situation culminated in the death of a newborn calf whose mother grieved over the body for an unprecedented 17 days and 1,000 miles.

The Southern Resident orcas have declined to a 30-year low of just 75 animals, following the death of eight individuals in 2017 and 2018. This alarming decline signals that the Southern Resident orca population is in severe jeopardy and at risk of extinction if no action is taken. 

Three primary factors threatening orcas in Puget Sound: not enough prey, specifically Chinook salmon; toxic contaminants in the water and their food; and disturbance from noise and vessel traffic.

On March 14, 2018, Governor Inslee signed Executive Order 18-02 designating state agencies to take several immediate actions to benefit Southern Resident orcas, and establishing a task force to develop a longer-term action recommendations for orca recovery and future sustainability. 

As a result of the Executive Order, communication professionals from local, state, and federal agencies and non-government organizations began meeting to coordinate and align outreach and education efforts that would help the public better understand the crisis of the Southern Resident orcas and learn about actions individuals can take to support orca recovery. This website is intended to serve as a library of resources, linking visitors to more in depth information and to organizations that rely on volunteer help to accomplish their mission in support of orca recovery.

Governors Southern Resident Orca Task Force

Get Involved

orcasound

ORCASOUND

Listen Live! Orcasound connects your headphones to live hydrophones (underwater microphones), your ears to an ocean of sound.

ORCA EVENT CALENDAR

Save the date for Orca Recovery Day on October 19th and be a part of the solution! This is your opportunity to join with your local Conservation District and other partner organizations on various hands on efforts such as salmon habitat restoration events, beach cleanups and more. Save the date on your calendar and check back for specific volunteer events as we get closer to the date.

 

Resources

Local government partners

San Juan County Marine Resources Committee 

We are a voluntary citizens advisory group to county government, with a mission to protect and restore the marine waters, habitats and species of the Salish Sea to achieve ecosystem health and sustainable resource use.

State partners

Department of Ecology 

Orcas and the food web that supports them depend on a healthy environment. We prevent and clean up oil spills, protect the Sound and other waters from pollution, and clean up polluted sites.


Department of Fish and Wildlife 

We enforce boating regulations protecting Southern Resident orcas, and we work to increase the amount of prey available to orcas through a variety of actions such as improving habitat and fish passage and boosting hatchery production for chinook salmon and steelhead.


Parks and Recreation Commission 

We provide an excellent land-based site for watching Southern Residents at Limekiln Point State Park, on San Juan Island. Through the Washington State Parks Boater Education program we support efforts to educate boaters about how to operate their boats when around Southern Residents.


Puget Sound Partnership  

We are the state agency leading the region’s collective effort to restore and protect Puget Sound. Working with hundreds of governments, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits, we mobilize partner action around a common agenda, advance Sound investments, and track progress to optimize recovery. 


Recreation and Conservation Office 
Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office
|Salmon Recovery Funding Board

The Salmon Recovery Funding Board, Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, and the Recreation and Conservation Office provide statewide policy and funding for salmon recovery.


 

Federal partners

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, West Coast Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection, conservation, and recovery of Southern Resident killer whales under the Endangered Species Act.  Our work includes developing and implementing the recovery plan, designating critical habitat, monitoring and evaluating population status, consulting on federal actions that may affect the whales, and working with a variety of partners to conduct research and implement actions to reduce impacts of threats and conserve the whales and their habitat.   


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA helps fund the Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda for protecting and restoring Puget Sound.

Non-government organizations 

Adopt A Stream Foundation

We teach people how to become stewards of their watersheds by producing environmental education materials, conducting Streamkeeper Academyclasses for all ages, and providing local communities with stream and wetland restoration technical assistance.  


Earth Corps

EarthCorps leads community volunteers in restoring the lands and waters of Puget Sound to support salmon and orca populations.


Friends of the San Juan Islands

Protecting and preserving the San Juan Islands and Salish Sea for people and nature since 1979. Advocates for shoreline and near shore habitat protections, oil spill prevention, quieter seas, and more food for Southern Residents.


Long Live The Kings

We restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. We combine innovative field work, pioneering science, broad partnerships, and sophisticated new management tools to help decision-makers advance salmon recovery while balancing the needs of fish, people, and our beloved orca.


The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy restores habitat to recover salmon populations and enhances nature in cities to filter toxic stormwater before it pollutes Puget Sound.


Northwest Stream Center

A regional environmental education facility designed to teach visitors the interconnections between forests, wetlands, streams, fish, wildlife and people and to stimulate visitors to become stewards of their home watersheds.


Orcasound

Orcasound is a cooperative listening network using underwater microphones (hydrophones) to listen for whales throughout the critical habitat of the southern resident killer whales. 


 

Orca Conservancy

We are working on behalf of Orcinus orca, the killer whale, and protecting the wild places on which it depends. 


Orca Network 

We are dedicated to raising awareness of the whales of the Pacific Northwest and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats.


Orca Salmon Alliance

We work to highlight the connection between two iconic endangered species that need help: Southern Resident Killer Whales and Chinook salmon.


Puget Sound Conservation Districts

We are helping lead the way in on-the-ground restoration activities that contribute toward recovery of Southern Resident orcas.


San Juan County Marine Mammal Stranding Network  

We work to research the marine mammals of the Salish Sea and to reduce human impact on them. We receive about 200 calls a year from the public about stranded marine mammals. Staff and volunteers drive or boat to the location of the reported stranding, gather information on the animal, and make sure that people stay the required 100 yards away.


SeaDoc Society 

We work to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems through science and education, taking a multi-species approach to finding science-based solutions in the Salish Sea.


Seattle Aquarium 

We are a science-based conservation organization working to educate and inspire action on behalf of Southern Resident orca recovery.


The Whale Museum

Located in beautiful Friday Harbor, Washington, since 1979, we were the first museum in the country devoted to a species living in the wild. Today, our museum continues to promote stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research.


The Whale Trail 

We highlight places to watch whales from shore along the West Coast.


University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology| Conservation Canines

We use innovative research, education and public outreach to address human impacts on endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales.


Washington Environmental Council

Washington Environmental Council works to protect, restore, and sustain Washington’s environment for all. Our People For Puget Sound program is dedicated to protecting and restoring Puget Sound to health.


Whale Scout 

Whale Scout connects the public with trained naturalists to watch whales for free from shore, and to inspire whale watchers to participate in habitat restoration events.


Wild Orca 

We are dedicated to supporting research, spreading awareness, and collaborating in the mitigation of threats facing endangered killer whales.