As of August 2019, the Southern Resident Orca population was at 73 individuals.
The Southern Resident Orcas are made up of 3 Pods - J, K & L.
The Southern Resident (SR) Orcas live in the ocean off the coast of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, and occasionally off Alaska or California. We did a full write up on them about a year ago, so if you want to learn more about these orca pods then click here.
They feed almost exclusively off Chinook salmon year-round. Because these salmon stocks are dwindling, it is becoming harder and harder for the SR Orcas to find food. With new reports suggesting that the lack of Chinook salmon is even affecting and stunting the growth of these orcas. Another new study suggests that it is possible that other Resident Orcas, such as the Northern Resident Orcas, are stealing the larger Chinook salmon and leaving the smaller salmon for the SR Orcas.
They are also susceptible to noise pollution from ships, as this can affect their ability to use echolocation to hunt for their prey. As well as chemical pollution which can impact the orcas immune system. This coupled with the lack of their prey, Chinook salmon, has put a strain on the population. Some recent research has even found that two-thirds of orca pregnancies fail due to nutritional stress.
What Can Be Done?
With the lack of Chinook salmon having such a devastating impact on Southern Resident Orcas, it is clear that something needs to be done to increase their numbers. The breaching of Lower Snake River dams is currently being debated in Washington. Multiple groups are involved in the debates, including indigenous tribes, fishermen, power producers and renewable energy advocates.
Oceana has set up a petition to protect 15,600 miles of orca critical habitat. By protecting their habitat from ship noises and pollution we are ensuring their survival.
"Since being listed as endangered in 2005, this orca population has continued to decline and could go extinct soon unless the National Marine Fisheries Service quickly takes big, courageous actions."
Tell the National Marine Fisheries Service to expand protections for the critical habitat that Southern Resident orcas call home -
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