New alliance launched to support orca and salmon conservation
WDC joins newly formed Alliance to recover the highly endangered Southern Resident orcas.
Amidst the celebration of the birth of a new calf to the Southern Resident orca community comes more encouraging news for this endangered population: a consortium of local, national and international organizations has come together to form a high-profile alliance to support the recovery of the Southern Resident population and the Chinook Salmon upon which they depend.
The newly formed Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) is comprised of Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, The Endangered Species Coalition, National Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Orca Network, Save Our wild Salmon, Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative, Washington Environmental Council and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
“OSA’s mission is to highlight the connection between two endangered species that need our help: Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) and Chinook Salmon. Our immediate objective is to prevent the extinction of the our region’s iconic orca population through advocacy and public education.”
Numbering 82 (or 83 including Lolita, a member of L pod currently held captive in Miami) the population of Southern Resident orcas living off the coasts of Washington and Oregon– is not only one of the most endangered species in Washington state; it’s also one of the most highly endangered animals in the world.
The Center for Whale Research officially confirmed the birth of a new calf to L pod two days ago, marking the fifth birth to this endangered population since December of last year.
One of the main threats to the Southern Resident community is the dramatic reduction in available food. “We can’t recover the highly endangered population of orca living off the Northwest coast without also restoring their primary food source, the Chinook salmon. Their fates are intertwined,” states Deborah Giles, Science Advisor for OSA. “Our goal as an alliance is to do everything in our power to help ensure that hope becomes a reality for these calves and the endangered population into which they were born.”
Calf mortality is extremely high during the first year of life, when approximately 37–50% of all calves die. Thus far, the four calves born earlier in the season have survived the odds.
The Orca Salmon Alliance will be hosting renowned author and speaker Dr. Carl Safina at the Seattle Aquarium, Wednesday, October 7th, at its inaugural event: Intertwined Fates: The Orca-Salmon Connection in the Pacific Northwest. Following his keynote address, Dr. Safina and a panel of experts in salmon and orca biology including Kenneth Balcomb, Senior Scientist at the Center for Whale Research; Jacques White, Executive Director of Long Live the Kings; Dr. Howard Schaller, salmon scientist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (invited); and Lynne Barre, marine biologist charged with orca recovery at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Services will discuss the critical connections between Columbia Basin salmon and Southern Resident orcas and the ways to help these iconic species survive and recover in the Pacific Northwest.