Saying goodbye to Scarlet (J50), and where do we go from here?

J50 still keeping up with her pod, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, permit #18786)
Scarlet with her pod, August 9, 2018. (Photo: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, permit #18786)

 

Like many throughout the Pacific Northwest, the Seattle Aquarium has been monitoring the status of Scarlet, the ailing three-year-old member of J Pod, as government officials and researchers worked to provide food and medical care in recent weeks.

Heartbreakingly, we have to share that researchers announced that they believe Scarlet has died as a result of her declining health conditions. Officials who have been tracking the situation closely have not seen Scarlet with her family in over a week and fear the worst NOAA’s public meetings to hear concerns and thoughts about southern resident orca recovery are still on schedule for this weekend, including one at 7pm Saturday in Friday Harbor at the high school and 1pm Sunday at the Haggett Hall Cascade Room at the University of Washington in Seattle..

We here at the Aquarium are deeply saddened by the presumed loss of another young member of J Pod. Scarlet’s death brings the southern resident orca population down to just 74 individuals and is most certainly a blow to the future of this iconic species. We can all take a moment to mourn this tragic loss—and then we must come together and take measurable steps to save our southern resident population and their primary food source, Chinook salmon, to help protect the rest of Scarlet’s family.

 

Take a moment to sign our petition to safeguard the Endangered Species Act

 

Our southern resident orca population and many other marine species, like salmon, have directly benefited from the protections afforded them by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This policy has been tremendously effective in bringing threatened species back from the brink of extinction.

Recently officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have proposed administrative rules changes that would weaken these important laws, and the Aquarium and other conservation organizations have been working to stop them before they can do any damage.

Take a moment to sign our online petition in support of protecting the ESA. Orcas and many other incredible species need these critical protections, so sign your name and make your voice heard!

 

Actions we can all take to help save orcas

 

The key threat to J, K and L Pods is the decline of their primary food source, the Chinook salmon. Each of us can do our part to help ensure the recovery of this important species, and lawmakers are discussing policy changes to be considered by the legislature during the upcoming session.

Some simple actions we can all take are things like limiting our use of water and electricity, and using only environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilizers on our lawns and in our yards. All of our bodies of water are connected and what we do upstream can greatly impact our one world ocean.

The Orca Salmon Alliance, of which the Aquarium is a member, put out a series of recommended actions to the Governor’s Orca Salmon Recovery task force. You can also read our previous blog post about how you can submit public testimony in support of taking bold action to save our local orca and salmon populations.

Thanks for doing your part to help the orcas, salmon, Puget Sound and the ocean!

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