How You Can Help the Southern Resident Orcas
The Southern Resident Community of Killer Whales is listed federally as an endangered species. In May 2001, an Endangered Species petition was submitted to the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) to get the Southern Resident Community listed in the United States. In the summer of 2002, NMFS rejected this proposal, instead listing them as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In early 2005, NMFS proposed a threatened designation. In November, 2005, NMFS listed the Southern Resident Community as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This went into effect in Februray, 2006.
In 2001 Canada listed the Southern Resident Community as "endangered." Pollution, dwindling salmon stocks, and high vessel traffic around the whales were cited as reasons for the listing. The fact that the population of J, K and L pods has not exhibited sustained growth in the last 25 years also concerns researchers.
Worldwide, there is no available count of how many wild orcas exist. They are found in every ocean of the world, with the greatest concentrations in the colder waters of the Antarctic, Pacific Northwest, and around Iceland and Norway.
Environmental education may be the strongest ally the orcas have. It is only through an understanding of the whales' needs for habitat and food resources that we can develop the conservation policies which will ensure their survival. The Whale Museum hosts exhibits and sponsors educational and stewardship programs on behalf of the orcas.
The United States is not the only country concerned about these orcas. In 2001, Canada listed them as a "species-at-risk" (equivalent of the U.S.'s "endangered") under a federal regulation that is less restrictive than the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Although no one can say for sure what is causing the decrease in the orca population, researchers agree that the following four issues are likely contributors:
* Pollution: Researchers have determined that the Southern Resident orcas are among the most contaminated animals on Earth. How you can help
* Food Shortage: Sixteen salmon stocks have been listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Salmon are the primary source of food for these orcas. How you can help
* Vessel Effects: J, K and L pods are subject to some of the highest levels of vessel traffic (and noise) of any whales in the world. How you can help
* Low Population Size: Researchers say that when populations reach critically low levels, they may never rebound. How you can help
In addition to the ideas found on the above pages, proceeds from all items you buy from The Whale Museumsuch as an Orca Adoption or merchandise from our Online Storesupport our ongoing research and education efforts on behalf of the whales.