Nearly 25% of the Southern Resident Orcas in the Pacific Northwest Have died!!
Please take action now to save these magnificent creatures!!!
In the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest, there is a place where hundreds of islands flow out of the forest green sea…a place where one of the world’s most beautiful, powerful, and majestic creatures can be found, Orca, the killer whale. This is also a place where something insidious is happening.
In 1995, there were a total of 99 Southern resident orcas. Today, however, there has been a tragic decline, with nearly 25% of the population dying.
What is causing this crisis?
Although these inland waters on the surface seem quite pristine and undisturbed, nothing could be further from the truth, for surrounding what appears to be untarnished wilderness is our modern civilization including the industrial centers of Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Vancouver, and Victoria, and all that that imposes.
We are polluting the air, the land, and the sea with PCBs, DDT, Mercury and Dioxins. These poisons are entering the food chain, finding their way up from small fish, to larger fish, and finally to orcas, who are at the top of the food chain.
The orcas that live here, by no choice of their own, have become urban whales and are the most contaminated whales in the world, containing over 200 times more toxins than the average human being on the planet!
By itself, this toxic overloading is a major cause of concern, but couple it with a food shortage and you have a lethal combination.
Chinook salmon, the main food source for the Southern Resident orcas, used to be plentiful here, but their numbers have been severely depleted, almost to extinction. This primarily due to the building of hydroelectric dams and habitat loss on the salmon’s prime river runs and spawning grounds.
What’s really insidious about this is the double whammy the orcas are facing: They don’t have enough food so they have to live off their fat reserves and their fat reserves are loaded with toxins. Add to this ever increasing impacts from the noise and exhaust of vessels, from huge Navy and cargo ships, to oil tankers, and cruise liners, to pleasure boaters and whale watchers…all of which only further complicates the orcas already precarious fight for survival.
Like canaries in a coalmine, they are showing us that something is seriously wrong and that we need to take action now before they disappear forever!
Our short film “Orcas in Crisis! which we produced for the US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and for the Canadian Department of Fisheries (DFO), helped to get both Canada and the US Government to place the Southern Resident Orcas on the endangered species list.
Here’s what you can do:
1. STOP THE ORCA POISONING – Scientific evidence has demonstrated that orca whales are threatened by the high levels of toxic contamination of their environment and food. It’s time to ensure a safe marine habitat for orcas and all marine life. Write to Governor Locke, Office of the Governor, PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA 98504-0002. Demand that the “TOXIC SIX-SIXTY-TWO” (6 toxic sediment waste areas, 62 sites) be cleaned up immediately. Send a copy with a cover letter asking for action to your senators and congressmen.
2. ASSURE ORCAS’ FOOD SUPPLY – Chinook salmon are a mainstay in the southern resident orca diet. Adopt a salmon stream, river or even an entire watershed. There are organizations and grassroots efforts you can join for hands-on watershed restoration projects. Involve your family, friends, business associates and other social groups to join with you.
3. SAVING WATER SAVES ORCAS – The water we waste or save is essential to the salmon that in turn are essential to the survival of the southern resident Orcas. You can help by installing a water-saving device on every water source in your home now. Whenever you can, install fixtures such as showerheads that do better than the 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) that serves as the current industry and government standard. Reduce your use of hot water, make it a priority in your conservation efforts, as it will have the greatest return (energy + water) for effort.
4. SAVING ELECTRICITY SAVES ORCAS – Buy one or two energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs every paycheck and replace the standard bulbs until your entire home is completely equipped. Electricity produced by hydropower uses the water salmon need to spawn. Without the salmon, the southern resident orca whales will become extinct. If you own a business, contact your utility today regarding the many programs that support, subsidize, and help you plan your water and energy conservation. If you work at a business, encourage and practice conservation.
5. STOP TOXIC RUN-OFF – Most of the toxins we use on our lawns and in our homes run off into rivers and the marine environment where salmon and orcas feed. You can reduce and eliminate toxic substances in your home and on your lawns, including cleaning products, lawn chemicals and pesticides. Use non-toxic alternatives and ensure that any toxic chemicals you have are taken to your nearest toxic waste disposal site.