Critically endangered orcas need salmon to survive

Migration Nation

As of January 2017, the Southern Residents have just 78 members in their population – this small community is living on the edge of extinction.

Southern Resident orcas depend on healthy and abundant wild stocks of Chinook salmon – the largest and fattiest of all the different kinds of salmon.  As Chinook numbers decrease, Southern Resident mortality rates increase, and starving orcas are less able to cope with the stress brought on by the other top threats to their survival, toxins and vessel effects. 

Center for Whale Research Chinook abundance and Southern Resident mortality

(Image: Center for Whale Research)

 Prey depletion, noise & disturbances, and biocontamination

The Columbia River system was one of the greatest salmon rivers in the world, home to an estimated 10-16 million fish each year.  Today, salmon abundance is a fraction of what it once was, and the majority of fish are hatchery-produced.  Wild stocks are continuing to plummet as they try to survive in a river that has been greatly altered from its natural state.

The four lower Snake River dams stand between the Columbia River and the high-elevation, pristine, protected wilderness of the Snake River drainage.  Removing these dams restores access to an area salmon experts believe offers Columbia Basin salmon their best chance of recovery.  Earlier this year, a Federal Court ruled that the latest federal plan for protecting endangered salmon in the Columbia Basin was fatally flawed.  For the first time in over a decade, the public was able to weigh in on a new plan and insist on real action for salmon in the Northwest.

Thank you for joining the #MigrationNation!

Thanks to you, WDC has contributed comments and thousands of signatures in favor of this historic opportunity to restore an entire river ecosystem, help wild salmon populations recover, and boost the primary food supply for the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas.  

This collaborative effort has had an incredible response, especially from advocates for the Southern Resident orcas.  WDC and our supporters are the voice for the Southern Residents in this process, and we are making sure your voices are heard!

Thank you for signing our letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bonneville Power Administration to ask for the removal of the four lower Snake River dams.  

The comment period has ended, but now the agencies must review comments from hundreds of thousands of concerned people.  The battle is not over to restore the Snake River and save its salmon.  As members of our #MigrationNation, we will keep you updated on our continuing efforts and the process to change dam operations in the Columbia River Basin.  Stay tuned for the next step to restore salmon for the Southern Resident orcas!

Latest News:

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Congressional bill would prevent breaching of four Snake River dams

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