June is Orca Awareness Month! With that being said a lot of awareness needs to be raised to help the last 79 remaining Southern Resident Orcas survive. There really is an absolute stunning lack of knowledge where they are regarded. I myself lived here most of my 30 years and only found out last year who the Southern Resident Orcas were.

Who am I? I’m an artist but more importantly, right now, I’m just like you. I’m an average person, working 9 to 5 who wants to see a change in the world and is taking small steps towards that change. For this reason I’m trying to increase awareness! The orcas of the northwest are iconic. You see them Photoshopped into impossible pictures of Mount Rainier and the Space Needle. When the ferry Captain’s voice rings over the intercom, “We’ve stopped to allow a pod of orcas to pass by.” every single face on the boat lights up, quickly pressed to the glass or flushed in the sea breeze. There is something magic about Orcas that choose to live with people.

What do I mean by choose to live with people? Well that takes us back to what the Southern Resident orcas are. They’re a clan of Orcinus orca, the fancy way of saying Killer Whale. We all know what an orca looks like. Huge, black and white, sharp teeth. We’ve seen it often on documentaries doing this…

Killer Whale Attacks Seal

Well that isn’t the orca I’m talking about. Southern Resident Orcas are like the vegetarians of the orca world. They don’t eat seals, sea lion, or porpoises. They have been hunting the Pacific Northwest waters for so long that they only eat fish and squid, mainly Salmon.

Southern Resident Orca Eating Salmon

A southern resident killer whale eats a Chinook salmon. (Credit: Astrid Van Ginneken, Center for Whale Research, Friday Harbor, Wash.)

So back to how they choose to live with people. Southern residents forage for food in the inland waters of Washington State and British Columbia. It is a little bit more complicated than that due to seasonal migration patterns that scientists recently discoverd in K and L pods but here is a map showing their range and new extended range courtesy of Curt Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity.

SRKW Range Map

HOW WE CAN ALL HELP

So all those challenges are pretty intimidating but lets take a moment to see what the everyday average person can do to help!

Keep Ocean Water Clean

What goes down the drain goes to the ocean.

  • Don’t put garbage down the sink.
  • Don’t pour grease, fats, oils or food scraps down the sink
  • In the Bathroom, if it didn’t go through you then don’t flush it.
  • Dispose of unused medications at your local pharmacy.
  • How to dispose of medicine (PDF)
  • Properly dispose of chemicals. (paints, cleaners)
  • How to dispose of chemicals (PDF)

Don’t Wash Your Car In The Driveway

  • All that soap and dirt runs out to the storm drains and out to the ocean.

Practice Natural Yard Care

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