For thousands of years the inland waters of the Pacific Northwest have been the summer feeding grounds for several pods of killer whales. Pods J, K and L, known as the Southern Resident Community, are generally found in the San Juan Islands/southern Vancouver Island area during the months of May-September.
[See a range map of killer whales.]
Researchers have been studying these wild whales in their natural habitat since 1976. Each orca can be identified by the shape and size of the fin on its back (dorsal fin) and the gray and white markings beneath and behind the fin (saddle patch). Each animal has been given a pod identification number and a common name which reflects a bit of its heritage, personality or circumstances of its discovery.
[Learn more about the whales.]
Currently, there are over 80 whales in these three pods that are available for adoption through The Whale Museums Orca Adoption Program.
[Meet the whales!]
The funds raised through this program help directly support ongoing research on the orcas and other marine mammals in the area. This includes shore-based acoustics and observational research at Lime Kiln Point State Park, compilation and maintenance of the Southern Resident orca critical habitat data base for the federal government, support of field research on vessel activities around the orcas and other wildlife through the Soundwatch Program, and operation of the federal marine mammal stranding network in the San Juan Islands, with its affiliated studies on marine mammal health and emerging diseases that could threaten the orcas. Local educational and summer tourist programs also benefit from these monies.
The whales of J, K and L pods could use your help to ensure their long-term well-being. Current problems facing these whales include declining fish populations, toxic exposure, surface impacts and underwater noise from pleasure and commercial boaters, and the possibility of a major oil spill in this region. All these need further study and solutions.
[See more details on these issues.]