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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?

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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.

Take Action

Urge your representatives to breach the lower four Snake River dams to protect the Southern Resident killer whales and the wild salmon they depend on.


Write, call or email to the following officials.

Senator Maria Cantwell
915 Second Avenue, Suite 3206
Seattle, WA 98174
(206) 220-6400

Send a message

Senator Patty Murray2930 Wetmore Avenue, Ste. 9D. Everett, Washington 98201

(425) 259-6515
Send a message

Governor Tina Kotek
State Capitol Building
900 Court Street NE, 160
Salem, OR 97301

Send a message

President Joe Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

TTY/TTD - For the hearing impaired, please use this number: 202-456-6213

Send a message

Governor Jay Inslee
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Send a message

Reasons to breach the dams

Salmon and Ecosystem Recovery

The Snake River was once a highly productive salmon river, generating over half of the Northwest’s Chinook salmon and substantial numbers of other salmon species and steelhead trout, totalling 4-6 million fish annually. Salmon sustain ecosystems and economies from the Pacific to the Continental Divide. Their decline has affected over 130 regional species, including the Southern Resident killer whales, which primarily feed on Chinook salmon and are also declining due to this loss. The drop in salmon populations has negatively impacted the health of Idaho’s forests and the diets, cultures, religions, and economies of Indigenous Tribes. Restoring these ecosystems requires a significant increase in wild salmon and steelhead numbers, which, according to the Columbia River System Operations EIS and the NOAA “Rebuilding Interior Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead” report, is only achievable by breaching the lower Snake River dams and restoring a free-flowing river.

Economic Benefits 

While breaching the LSRDs entails short-term costs, these are outweighed by the long-term expenses of maintaining the dams and the economic benefits from restored fisheries and ecosystem services. Restoring salmon fisheries in the Columbia Basin is estimated to create up to 25,000 new jobs and contribute $1 billion annually to the economy.

Climate Change

Breaching the LSRDs will help combat climate change.  The warm stagnant reservoirs behind the dams emit significant methane gas, which will end with breaching.  After the dams have been breached, the restored vegetation along the 140 mile river corridor will sequester a lot more carbon than the current barren banks. Breaching will also bolster carbon storage in the forests and grasslands upstream of the dams, with more salmon bringing more nutrients to these inland areas. Breaching the lower Snake River dams will be a big boost to the Biden Administration's 30x30 program (protecting 30% of US lands and waters by 2030).  A 140 mile corridor from Tri-Cities WA to Lewiston ID, over 14,000 acres of valuable wetlands and riparian areas will be restored, providing crucial habitat and connectivity for native wildlife and plants.

Indigenous Rights and Cultural Importance:

Salmon are a vital part of the culture, diet, and economy for many Indigenous tribes in the region. Breaching with lower Snake River dams could help honor treaties and agreements that guarantee fishing rights and support the cultural revival of these communities


Tell Congress to remove the four lower Snake River dams

Tell Senator Maria Cantwell to restore salmon and save the SRKW from extinction by removing the LSRDs

Tell the Department of Energy to breach the Lower Snake River Dams this year

Support Indigenous calls to remove Snake River dams and restore salmon

Stand with Native Youth: Support Removal of the Snake River Dams

 Urge the Biden Administration to work with the Northwest people to modernize the Columbia River Treaty

Tell Congress and the administration to protect salmon and orcas by breaching the dams

 Prevent logging activity in the rivers and destruction of Chinook salmon habitat

Urge DOE Secretary to ensure BPA aligns with the Administration to prevent species extinction

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

- Margaret Mead

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