October 31, 2016
The West Coast’s most celebrated marine mammal is in big trouble, and its supporters are pleading for the removal of four big dams that are killing off the species’ food supply.
At a somber ceremony in Seattle on Friday, cetacean biologists announced that two more members of the Southern Resident killer whale population’s “J pod” had died of apparent starvation in October, bringing the total population of Southern Resident orcas to 80.
The reason: Southern Resident killer whales eat Chinook salmon. And since we’ve built dams on the majority of their spawning habitat, there aren’t enough Chinook salmon to go around.
At the Seattle event, held Friday at Pier 66 on that city’s waterfront,, whale advocates noted the recent losses of J-28, a breeding-age female orca born in 1993, and her calf J-54, until his death the youngest member of the J pod, born in 2015. Both whales were observed in weak, even emaciated condition in the weeks and days before their deaths. They were preceded in death by J-14, a 42-year-old female who went missing in August, and the young male J-55, who died in January only a handful of days old.