The endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales need your help!
Southern Resident Killer Whales - Painting created by our Co-Founder Peggy Oki
Take action for the 74 endangered Southern Resident killer whales.
Who are the Southern Resident Killer Whales?
The Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) are a distinct population of killer whales (orcas) that inhabit the waters of the northeastern Pacific Ocean. These whales are found primarily in the inland waters of Washington State and British Columbia in the Salish Sea, an area encompassing the Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Strait of Georgia.
The Southern Resident Killer Whales are known for their complex social structure. They live in tight-knit family groups called pods, which are led by older, post-reproductive females known as matriarchs. Each pod is composed of multiple generations of related individuals. There are three identified pods within the Southern Resident population, named J, K, and L pods. Each pod is further divided into smaller family groups called matrilines.
Why are they endangered?
The Southern Resident Killer Whales face various threats, including the decline of their main prey, the Chinook salmon, pollution, noise disturbance from vessel traffic, and the cumulative effects of these stressors. As a result, the population has been listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and Canada's Species at Risk Act.
Arguably the biggest threat to the Southern Resident killer whales is the lack of their primary prey, Chinook salmon. Their well-being is intricately linked to the abundance of this specific species. While they also consume other types of fish, such as Sockeye and Chum salmon, these alternatives are less fatty and nutritious.
Over the past decade, the crucial salmon runs in the region have experienced a consistent decline. Various factors, including dams, pollution, urbanization, climate change, and habitat loss, have collectively contributed to the diminishing numbers of salmon. The Southern Residents heavily rely on these salmon runs, and the challenges faced by the fish populations impact the killer whales' health and reproductive success.
For our supporters outside the United States:
Your help is equally valuable! Please consider sharing this webpage with any friends you may have in the U.S. We'll also be actively posting about the SWIMS Act on our social channels, and your support in spreading the message would mean the world to us.
Letters make an impact!
Peggy Oki (Founder/Director of Origami Whales Project and co-founder of cetaceans.org) delivered her SWIMS Act letter to U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal. This momentous occasion was captured on video so we could share the power of letter-writing with you. After this meeting, Congressman Carbajal signed on to cosponsor the SWIMS Act! This is a wonderful example of how impactful letters can be!
Meeting your U.S. Rep in person isn't always possible, but writing to them can make a BIG impact. Watch the full video of Peggy meeting her U.S. Rep - and please join our letter-writing campaign on behalf of cetaceans!
“No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal."
- Jacques Yves Cousteau