Help Orca Relief Create a Whale Protection Zone for Puget Sound's
Endangered Orca

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Key Orca Protection Documents
Marine Mammal Protection Act and Whale Watching
Status Review Update of Southern Resident Killer Whales [2013]
Protective Regulations for Killer Whales in the Northwest Region under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act [2011]
Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) 5-Year Review: Summary and Evaluation [2011]
FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT for New Regulations to Protect Killer Whales from Vessel Effects in Inland Waters of Washington [2010]
Recovery Plan for Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) [2008]
Recovery Strategy for the Northern and Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Canada. [2008]
Sound Exposure and Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcinus orca): A Review of Current Knowledge and Data Gaps. [2008]
Critical Habitat for Southern Resident Killer Whales [2006]
Endangered status for Southern Resident killer Whales. [2005]

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NOAA Fisheries Report Includes Chance for Whale Protection Zone

From: NOAA ecolist:
10 Year Killer Whale Report: Today, NOAA Fisheries released a report highlighting the accomplishments of 10 years of dedicated research and conservation of the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population. With a decade of federal funding and productive partnerships with the killer whale community, we have taken targeted actions, collected substantial new data, and refined scientific techniques to protect this listed species and ensure a strong foundation for its recovery.

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Petition Filed to Increase Critical Habitat for Southern Resident Orca

Please support the petition by the Center for Biological Diversity to the National Marine Fisheries Service to expand Critical Habitat for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. Deadline for scientific and commercial information pertinent to the petitioned action is June 24, 2014.

Breeding-age Male Orca in Collapse:
Total Down 26% from 2009 - Lowest Count Since 2003

A new Orca Relief analysis of the Southern Resident Killer Whales (based on data from Center for Whale Research and National Marine Fisheries Service) underlines prior analyses showing that breeding age orca are declining even faster than the population at large. The facts behind this "hidden collapse":

"Our new analysis suggests that the greatest danger to the population is much more serious than indicated by total headcount. - Bruce Stedman, Executive Director


Q13 Fox News: The push to save endangered orcas in Puget Sound

Mark Anderson, founder of Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance, an organization that fights to save the whales, said we're at risk of losing the resident orcas. Watch the full report

Dangerous Decline in Breeding-age Female Orca Whales Discovered

Bruce Stedman, Director, Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance

A new Orca Relief analysis of the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SKRWs) of reproductive age shows an unreported and dangerous decline.

"Our new analysis suggests that the greatest danger to the population is much more serious than indicated by total headcount, as the breeding female population, today and tomorrow, plunges at an alarming rate. We are concerned that if additional protective steps are not taken very soon, it could be too late for Puget Sound's resident Orca."


A Northwest View of the Film Blackfish

Bruce Stedman, Director, Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance

Last week I attended a screening of the powerful documentary Blackfish, a much-needed investigation of SeaWorld's treatment of orca whales made captive for human entertainment. As well as appreciation for the courageous exposure of "behind the window" realities of marine mammal exhibits, I left the theater with a gut-wrenching set of images and anger about there even being captive orca.

But I also thought there should be a Blackfish2: a sequel that faces head-on the many other ways we as humans threaten these extraordinary creatures.


U.S. Fisheries Service Denies Petition to Remove "Endangered" Status from Southern Resident Killer Whales.

12-month finding on petition to delist Southern Residents: We issued a 12-month finding that delisting the Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is not warranted. After reviewing the petition, public comments, and the best available information, we found that the new information supports or strengthens identification of North Pacific Resident killer whales as a subspecies and the resultant Southern Resident killer whale DPS determination in our previous 2004 status review and the 2005 endangered listing. Therefore, our original listing was not in error, and the Southern Resident killer whale DPS will remain listed as endangered under the ESA. For more information, please visit:


Orca Recovery Program Failing

The recent release of the July 2013 count of the Federally Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs) in Puget Sound (by Center for Whale Research) demonstrates again why we need a place for these extraordinary neighbors of ours to rest - a Whale Protection Zone off the west side of San Juan Island, away from the daily noise and attention from the commercial fleet of motorized whale-watching.


"Whale watching. The very concept is absurd: Riding a big polycarbonate oil-and-bilge belcher out into the fragile Puget Sound ecosystem to enjoy and appreciate one of nature's most alluring, majestic beasts. It's one of those continuous, lather-rinse-repeat loops: The more you go out in search of the Northwest's truly rare wildlife, the more truly rare it gets -- and the more people want to seek it out. Stop the madness; just say no."  Ron Judd, Seattle Times Columnist

Orca Relief was the first organization to predict the decline in Southern Resident Whales, and the first to conduct research on what is killing those whales.

Our understanding, combining all of the studies done by us and others to date, is this:

In an environment of dwindling Chinook salmon, boat presence reduces hunt efficiency while increasing food requirements, accelerating starvation, which draws down toxin-laden blubber supplies, culminating in death.

We have funded three studies, each showing the contribution of boats to orca mortality. To see these research studies, click here.

The San Juan Islands, north of Puget Sound, Washington, are the year-round home of three pods, or family groups, of Orca whales. Over the past ten years, massive environmental changes have challenged the health and stability of the San Juan Orca population.  Scientists have found that this decrease is due to the presence of toxins in Puget Sound, low numbers of salmon for the whales to eat, and, most importantly, a burgeoning whale watch industry.

Land Based Whale Watching
At Lime Kiln Point State Park, a land based whale watch park in the San Juan Islands (WA), you can see orcas up close as they move along Haro Strait, sometimes even better than you can see them from a boat. For more information, click here, go to the Lime Kiln State Park website.

Time To Act: Establish the West Side Whale Protection Zone
The whales are dying. In the last few years, we have lost about 20% of our local Orca population. In the winter of 2001, in the first-ever sighting of our local whales south of the Columbia River, K and L pods traveled at least as far south as Monterey. Click here to read more.

Estimated West Side Whale Protection Zone*
(Click to enlarge)
*as proposed in Draft Environmental Assessment, New Regulations to Protect Killer Whales from Vessel Effects in Inland Waters of Washington, January 2009, page 2-5

In the News

Q13Fox: June 25, 2014 - NOAA report: Orcas still struggling, 3 primary factors to blame
CFAX AM 1070: October 25, 2013 - Interview with Mark Anderson, Founder and President, Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance (interview starts at 9m10s)
September 30, 2013 - Dangerous Decline in Breeding-age Female Orca Whales Discovered
July 16, 2013 - New Executive Director Appointed To Orca Relief Citizens' Alliance
July 15, 2013 - Orca Recovery Program Failing
November 27, 2012 - Orcas: A species on the brink
June 12, 2012 - Whale-watching boats: no 'room' for the orcas
June 7, 2012 - In times of low Chinook count, boat noise stresses whales
August 14, 2011 - Whalewatchers attack starvation claim
August 5, 2011 - The State of the Orca
February 22, 2011 - Q13 FOX News: Orca protections still not in place


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