PRESS RELEASE: The population of the J,K and L pods has decreased to 82 killer whales as of the July 2013 count by the Center for Whale Research. The southern resident orcas are on the Endangered Species List.
Whale experts are concerned about the health of the breeding males and females of J, K, and L Pods. The number of whales in the three pods is the lowest since 2002.
ORCA (Orca Relieft Citizens Alliance believes the results illustrate the need for a Whale Protection Zone off the west side of San Juan Island. This no-go zone would keep the daily noise and attention from the commercial whale-watching fleet. NOAA first suggested the zone which would keep boats, including kayaks out of the area. The idea has met with intense objections from many county residents.
The National Marine Fisheries Service 2006 Recovery Plan estimated in order for the recovery to work, the population should be 113 by 2015.
According to Orca Relief over a decade of scientific studies on the issue of Orca mortality show the Southern Resident Orca are being negatively affected in the following ways:
In years of low Chinook salmon returns, the three pods are under stress for finding food;
Constant pursuit by the commercial motorized fleet (during daylight hours from May to October) leads to increased stress levels, increased metabolic rates and an increased need for food, while simultaneously reducing their sonar – and therefore hunting – efficiency;
In this situation, the whales begin to starve, and as this happens they consume the toxins locked in their blubber reserves, and they die.
Orca Relief Citizens Alliance is committed to creating the West Side Whale Protection Zone. The organization believes it is the missing piece of regulatory protection that would provide the best chance of saving this population from extinction.
For more information about the Orca Relief Citizens Alliance visit www.orcarelief.org