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8 thoughts on “Facing the possibility of extinction for the killer whales of Puget Sound

  1. Thanks Dunagan.
    A sobering article and a reality check from a Species Indicator. Any feedback or data supporting controlled lethal removal of Steller Sea Lions, to decrease population?
    Would that help salmon recovery, in a cheaper, faster effort? We have done the same with wolves right?

  2. When I came up from the deep ocean in 2003 where I’d been studying basic science as a grad student, I looked for a local marine environmental problem that could be solved in my lifetime. I chose to help recover the SRKW population and worked on it for a decade before the demographic data (~1% growth rate if you use all available census data, presented at the 2012 orca-salmon workshop II) made me realize I wasn’t going to see recovery as defined by NOAA any time soon. What I’m realizing in the last few years (clarified by your excellent synopsis today) is that the odds are increasing that I will instead witness their *failure* to recover.

    In the hope of that not happening, let me just add that I, too, am confident (as an involved researcher) that reducing underwater noise levels where SRKWs communicate and attempt to echolocate scarce Chinook is also part of the solution for getting more Salish Sea salmon into SRKW mouths. As the Trans Mountain pipeline expands and vessel traffic grows on both sides of the US-Canada border, you can increasingly hear what I’m worried about via the live hydrophones of orcasound.net …

    1. What can we do? I mean, what can I do to make a difference? So many people seem to know the solutions. I can write, I can speak, I can volunteer. Better with my brain than physical work, as am retired. Retired from wildlife/environmental communications. Please tell me and others what we can do.

      1. Karen,

        Your question is very reasonable, but I don’t have a simple answer. Scientists do not necessarily agree about the quickest and most effective way to to restore salmon runs. In some ways, the restoration must be done stream by stream, although some people argue that removing the Snake River dams would benefit salmon populations quickly. You can learn about the debate over dams with an Internet search, such as for “removing Snake River dams.”

        The other part of your question involves political action. Funding is needed for research to better understand the needs of wild chinook in general and what should be done in particular locations. There is never enough money to work on even the most obvious restoration projects.

        Various governmental groups, including the Puget Sound Partnership, as well as numerous environmental groups, are leading the way or lending political support for salmon restoration. One source of general information is the partnership’s salmon recovery page.

        Learning about the issue, speaking out about needed changes and becoming involved in groups that are addressing the problem are a few things that concerned people can do.

        I hope others close to these issues will suggest ideas about what you can do to help the salmon and ultimately the killer whales.

    2. Scott,

      Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your work on underwater sound is exceedingly valuable, and I always look forward to reporting on your findings. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

  3. If would help in the public seeing the chinook salmon population problem, if that is the key factor to resident pods survival, by simply showing a chart of the best estimate of chinook salmon population over time in the area that the resident orcas generally feed. Salmon recovery efforts have been talked about for at least two decades. Let’s see the more data and what is causing chinook salmon decline on what is being targeted as the whale’s survival problem since habitat restorations projects have been happening for more than a decade.
    And let’s see the facts as to why the Snake River dams have to be removed. Having visited the extensive salmon fish hatcheries along the Snake River that we all pay for that supposedly mitigate the effects of those dams, and the fact they raise and release millions of salmon, is that mitigation plan not working? Columbia River salmon runs, if one can believe news reports, have recently been near record levels. And the resident orcas, from just one that was tracked, don’t appear to spend a lot of time around the mouth of the Columbia River. Is the problem that the Columbia River fish are heading to areas in the Pacific that the resident orcas don’t travel?
    There are some things that don’t seem to add up … lets see some reliable fish facts if chinook starvation is the cause of the problem.

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