We have all been gripped by the heartbreaking images of our Southern resident orca Tahlequah (also known as J35) as she mourned the death of her calf this past week. For those who may have missed the news, Tahlequah's calf passed less than an hour after her birth and her mother has been carrying the body of her deceased calf in a mourning ritual for almost two weeks.
The tragic event comes on the heels of the presumed death of Crewser (also known as L92) a 23-year-old male and the current deteriorating health of four-year-old Scarlet (also known as J50) who has been suffering from malnutrition. Currently NOAA and other officials have undertaken emergency measures to try and save J50.
At the Seattle Aquarium we are all grieving along with the rest of the world. And though we are sad, we are viewing this as a wakeup call around the health of the Salish Sea and our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment.
The good news is that we are not the only ones. Governor Inslee and tribal nations have sounded the alarm and created the Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force. This workgroup has been holding regular work sessions across the state to come up with short- and long-term actions we can take regionally to help save this iconic Northwest species.
As members of the Orca-Salmon Alliance—a coalition of marine conservation, salmon and environmental advocates—the Aquarium has been lending our voice on the best path forward to save our orcas. We recently shared a list of actions we believe federal, state and regional policy makers can take to help protect southern resident orcas.
One of the most immediate steps we can take involve protecting salmon runs that are a critical food source for the J, K and L pods. The Governor's orca task force is meeting today, August 7, 2018 in Wenatchee, with additional meetings taking place August 28 and October 18.
We can all do our part to help save our orcas and we thank you for your continued support. Stay tuned to the Seattle Aquarium blog for additional updates on task force recommendations, breaking news and how we can all do our part to Inspire Conservation of Our Marine Environment.
You can view live coverage of the Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force on TVW at the following link. The next meeting is taking place today Tuesday, August 7, from 9:00am to 4:00pm.
If you would like to lend your voice in support of our local orcas consider sending the following message below through their online web portal found here.
Dear Task Force Members,
Our southern resident orca population are a treasured species here in the Pacific Northwest and I am writing to voice my support for taking immediate long- and short-term actions to help provide greater protections.
Better protecting their primary food source the chinook salmon is one of the single greatest things we can do to promote their health. I urge the task force to support the recommendations put forth by the Orca-Salmon Alliance including the advancement of salmon habitat restoration in vital watersheds and the increased spillover of federal dams to improve water quality.
These recommendations are critical to the success of our resident orcas and it is vital we act before it is too late.