The State of the Orca:
A Response to Questions and Criticisms
The original publication of this status report has led to responses directly from the Whale Watch Operators, from their paid naturalists, and from others interested in our local Orca population. This response, written for online use, contains various links and supporting studies or authorities who would not have fit into the original, which was restricted to 500 words.
Read the complete article...
"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. Specifically, the first showed a direct correlation
with boat numbers present in times of dwindling salmon; the second showed the
increase in food requirements required when boats are present; and the third
showed a drastic reduction in orcas' ability to capture food using sonar in the
presence of boat motors, even at distances allowed by whale watch guidelines
in effect today.
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
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, or read a Seattle P-I Article on whale
OFFICIAL REPORT now available for the
Fourth International Orca Symposium and Workshop held in
September 2002 in France!!! To access the report, click
Time To Act: Preserve San Juan Orca
By Mark Anderson, co-founder, The Whale Museum, and Executive Director, Orca
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.