Please select your home edition
SWC newsletters (top)

Pacific Northwest celebrates Orca Action Month

by NOAA Fisheries 4 Aug 2019 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

Busy Atlantic hurricane season is expected
Multiple climate factors indicate above-normal activity is most likely An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. Posted on 24 May
Team frees entangled humpback whale
Multiple sets of fishing gear were so heavy, they 'anchored the whale in place' A trained response team on Monday freed a humpback whale in Monterey Bay. It had become so severely entangled and weighed down by commercial dungeness crab fishing gear that it could not move. Posted on 23 May
Teamwork saves harbor seal
Volunteers and experts formed a rescue team to safely release the seal A series of fortunate events recently led to a happy ending for a harbor seal. It had gotten its canine teeth stuck in the steel grated walkway at the hatchery in Valdez. Posted on 22 May
Technology unlocks the world of beaked whales
It takes a combination of luck and perseverance to study them. Beaked whales are a fascinating and elusive group of cetacean species. Beaked whales live in deep water environments, and dive to incredible depths for long periods of time, making them mysterious and difficult to find. Posted on 16 May
How well do you know Hawaii's hawksbill turtles?
This Endangered Species Day, take our 10-question quiz to find out! May 15 marks Endangered Species Day, a time when we celebrate the protection of endangered species and their habitat. Hawai'i is often called the endangered species "capital" of the nation. Posted on 15 May
Importance of Sea Stars in deep-sea ecosystems
Key finding of a new article by Christopher L. Mah Sea stars play an important role in deep-sea ecosystems, especially as predators of sponges and corals (mostly octocorals). Posted on 3 May
Teams free entangled humpback whale
Fast coordination by trained responders leads to safe and successful outcome A trained team freed a humpback whale entangled in lines from a prawn trap set off Santa Cruz Island on Tuesday afternoon, April 14, 2020. Posted on 29 Apr
Restoring Gulf 10 years after Deepwater Horizon
See how we're working with partners and Gulf communities to restore its fisheries and habitats The impacts from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill affected the entire Gulf ecosystem. Oil sank down to the ocean floor, mixed into the water column, seeped into marshes, and soiled beaches. Animals swam through it, inhaled it, and even ingested the oil. Posted on 28 Apr
One program's quest to save endangered turtles
A new StoryMap details the struggles faced by hawksbill sea turtle population In Hawaii, fewer than 200 nesting female hawksbill sea turtles have been documented in the last 30 years. These turtles—known as honu'ea in Hawaiian—make up one of the most endangered sea turtle populations in the world. Posted on 19 Apr
10 years after Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Learn more about our efforts to restore the Gulf's ecosystem since then This April, NOAA is commemorating 10 years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, considered the largest U.S. offshore oil spill in history, resulting in the tragic loss of human and marine life. Posted on 18 Apr
MBW newsletters (top)