The Killer Whales of Washington Are Starving to Death

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: US Fish and Wildlife, NOAA, U.S. Congress

For the three pods in the southern resident killer whale (SRKW) clan, salmon is king. It is one of the most important parts of their diet and has helped these whales rule the waters off the northwest coast of the United States for millennia.

But that was when the chinook salmon were plentiful, when the keystone species was so bountiful that it could support the bears, birds, whales, and people that lived in and around its habitat. But after years of overfishing, habitat destruction, gene pool dilution, and other man-made problems, the Chinook is struggling to survive and that means the killer whales of the Puget Sound are also in big trouble.

Now there are just 74 whales in the entire clan and researchers worry that number could drop by two this year. These whales have already had it bad. Last year, Tahlequah part of the J pod of SRK whales, broke hearts around the world when she was filmed carrying around her calf which died shortly after birth. But the drama didn't stop there. Scientists are ringing the alarm, and warning that the whales are starving due to lack of food, especially salmon, and they have the photos to prove it.

J17, Tahlequah's mother has been photographed with an unusual peanut shaped head. This appears on whales that are starving. Additionally, K25, a 27-year-old male also shows signs of starvation. The young whale lost his mother last year and has since not been able to forage successfully for food.

Without action, both the orcas' and salmon's situation could quickly get worse. Our government has an obligation to protect these incredible species and at the moment we are failing them. If they disappear, we will have lost part of our natural heritage and that is unacceptable. It is time the federal government stop sitting on its hands and take action to save them.

Please sign the petition and implore our government to look into all options and take immediate action to save salmon and the orcas.

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