Please select your home edition
SWC newsletters (top)

Pacific Northwest celebrates Orca Action Month

by NOAA Fisheries 4 Aug 07:50 UTC
A Southern Resident killer whale breaches in Puget Sound. © Monika Wieland Shields

The story of Southern Resident killer whale J35 carrying her dead calf for two weeks last summer attracted worldwide attention, prompting Orca Network to rename June "Orca Action Month," from the former "Orca Awareness Month," signaling the immediate action needed to recover the critically endangered whales.

NOAA Fisheries' West Coast Region applauds the change, and the collaboration between Orca Network and the Orca Salmon Alliance that brought advocates together to take even more action for the Southern Residents.

"Thirteen years ago Orca Network began celebrating Orca Awareness Month in Washington State and had recently expanded to Oregon and British Columbia," said Cindy Hansen, Education and Events Coordinator for Orca Network. "Also adding to this momentum and expansion has been the partnership with the Orca Salmon Alliance for the past several years. This year we decided that since J35 raised so much awareness with her story, we would change the name from Orca Awareness Month to Orca Action Month."

Partners in action

The month rallied support for actions everyone can take to recover the Southern Resident killer whales. For example, Friends of North Creek Forest organized a river restoration party in Bothell, Washington. This work party saw people using shovels to plant native plants and remove invasive species, all to benefit salmon, the primary prey of the Southern Residents.

On June 9, the day after World Oceans Day, Orca Network, Whale Scout, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation led a coordinated beach cleanup at 15 locations in Washington and Oregon. The Seattle Aquarium, Washington State Parks, and Port Townsend Marine Science Center also held Orca Action Month events that educated people about killer whales and called people in the Northwest to action.

"Visitors often ask us what they can do to help save our local orcas," said Nora Nickum, Ocean Policy Advisor for the Seattle Aquarium. "The Seattle Aquarium aspires to turn knowledge into inspiration and provide tangible actions, from things that people can do at home to policies that they can support in the Legislature. We know that our future, the future of our Southern Resident orcas, and the future of the Salish Sea are all inextricably linked.

"Our annual Orca Weekend celebration is an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the orcas, hear from researchers in the field, do fun hands-on activities, and learn about ways we can all help the orcas recover. We are excited to also be joined by many of our Orca Salmon Alliance partners who are doing great work around the region."

What can you do?

Just a few changes in your daily activities and outlook can add up to meaningful action to help the whales and the salmon they eat. For example:

  • Prevent toxic runoff into streams and the ocean from car oils and fluids by fixing car leaks.
  • Conserving water by watering your lawn less.
  • Landscape with native plants to avoid fertilizer and pesticide runoff into streams and the coastal waters.
  • Plant native plants and trees along creeks and streams to provide shade and nutrients.
  • Boaters and kayakers can follow Be Whale Wise guidelines at org to prevent disturbing the whales when they are foraging and resting.

Check out this page for more groups and volunteer opportunities to help promote recovery of the Southern Residents.

Orca Action Month's official website also remains a resource for people who want to get involved. Even if you missed some events, you can still contact organizations that pursue action throughout the year.

For more ways to help recover Southern Resident killer whales and improve the health of the ocean, follow the links provided. It's not too late to make a difference!


Related Articles

Trained team freed an entangled humpback whale
Removing ropes that had hog-tied the whale between its mouth and tail The entangled whale was first reported just before noon Thursday, August 8, by Todd's Extreme Fishing. He stayed with the whale to monitor its location until the Makah Tribe and U.S. Coast Guard arrived to take over the watch. Posted on 17 Aug
A new coral nursery by NOAA
The nursery could help restore damaged reefs using fully formed coral colonies When a ship grounds on coral reef, the accident can severely damage the reef and scatter countless small coral fragments onto the seafloor. But these pieces of coral aren't yet dead—they can gain new life if placed into a coral nursery. Posted on 16 Aug
US, Canadian officials coordinate for right whales
Conservation and management efforts for endangered North Atlantic right whales Last week, I met with officials from Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada to continue our bilateral discussions on the conservation and management of the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. Posted on 15 Aug
Monitoring Coral Reef Ecosystems
Throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago The Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center has been surveying coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific since the early 2000s. We collect data to assess how coral reefs vary over space and time. Posted on 12 Aug
Tracking a manta ray named Leo
Scientists use a satellite tag to track Leo's movements This summer, NOAA Fisheries and the Marine Megafauna Foundation collaborated on manta ray satellite-tagging expeditions in Southeast Florida. These satellite tags will continuously record location, depth, and temperature. Posted on 11 Aug
An early notification from fisherman saved a life
NOAA Fisheries received information that was vital to finding a hooked Hawaiian monk seal Early on Saturday, July 27th, the Hawaii Marine Animal Rescue received a call about a hooked monk seal. A fisherman was reeling in his line when he realized there was an endangered Hawaiian monk seal at the end of it. Posted on 10 Aug
Top 10 facts about sharks and seals
Seals and sharks in Cape Cod waters have some things in common, but other facts may surprise you. There are two similar species of seals that inhabit the Cape and Islands - gray and harbor seals. Adult gray seals can weigh between 550 and 850 pounds and are on the Cape year-round. Posted on 10 Aug
White sharks and gray seals return to Cape Cod
After decades without seeing many, Cape Codders easily find seals & sharks together in warmer months In 1975, the movie Jaws made "Cape Cod" and "shark" synonymous, even though white sharks were rare in these waters. Today gray seals are becoming equally associated with Cape Cod, although the once-resident populations were eliminated by the early 1970s. Posted on 4 Aug
The American Pocket Shark
After making waves in 2015, a small 5 1/2 inch shark is big news again! This newly identified species of pocket shark was brought to Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute back in the spring of 2015. Since then researchers have been studying the tiny shark comparing it to the only other known specimen of this kind. Posted on 1 Aug
Survey Team assists with whale disentanglement
While photographing right whales for identification On July 9, 2019 while photographing right whales for identification, the NOAA Fisheries aerial whale survey team re-sighted a known entangled whale. Posted on 23 Jul
MBW newsletters (top)