Southern Resident Orca Eating Salmon

Orca Awareness Month

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


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

  • Avoid pesticides & chemical fertilizers as they kill off the bottom of the aquatic food chain reducing food for everyone
  • Prevent chemicals from running off into drainage ditches.

Use Natural Products

  • Choose your cleaning products more carefully and avoid any that contain: Disinfectants, Phosphates, Synthetic Perfumes and Fragrances, and Nonyphennol Ethoxlates (NPE’s)
  • Make your own cleaners out of stuff you probably already have.

Above information is courtesy of the David Suzuki Foundation

Reduce Reuse Recyle to stop garbage from reaching the oceans

Grow food yourself or buy from local farmers and farmers markets

  • Saves energy
  • Protects groundwater
  • Allows you to learn how to be a good steward of plants and animals

Give them space in the wild

  • Stay out of their path (400 yards)
  • Stay at least 200 yards away
  • Treat them with the same respect you would yourself.

The above helpful tips are courtesy of the Center for Whale Research. Read more at!orca-conservation/cbuu

Support Salmon Habitat Reconstruction:

Report Sightings & Beach Strandings

  • – 1-866-ORCANET (672-2638)

Sign the Petition to Remove the 4 Snake River Dams

While this may not immediately help the Southern Residents it helps to be aware of the one captive member of their clan. Lolita/Tokitae is currently being held at Miami Seaquarium and I would like her to be brought home. Her mother is possibly still alive at 86 years of age and there is widespread desire for her release. Please support efforts to retire Lolita to a sea pen in the Puget Sound. She may then have a chance to meet her family once again!

Thank you for reading all the way down here! You rock. Together we can make a better world.

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