Orcas of the Salish Sea on track to extinction

As Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Dominic LeBlanc makes announcements on Canada's West Coast this week, and with World Whale Day approaching (February 18), WWF-Canada calls upon the federal government to release its recovery plan for the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKWs). The action plan for their recovery under the Species At Risk Act (SARA) is long overdue, and unless strong protection measures are quickly implemented, it is unlikely this group will survive in the long-term. Also known as the orcas of the Salish Sea, seven have died since January 2016, bringing the population down to 78. David Miller, WWF-Canada president and CEO, said: "Southern Resident Killer Whales, along with the Northern Resident population, have been without a recovery plan for the 16 years since they were first found to be endangered. With seven deaths in a single year, these orcas are at a crossroads: Will measures be put in place to meaningfully reduce the threats they face, or will we let this iconic group of orcas disappear from our oceans forever?"

The whales rely almost completely on Chinook salmon, which is in decline. Underwater noise, mostly from shipping. Acoustic disturbances mean orcas find it harder to communicate, forage for food and navigate. Contaminants from watershed pollution, which accumulates in orcas and can damage their health.

Source: Montreal Gazette, 14 Feb 2017