2 more Puget Sound orcas predicted to die in critically endangered population

January 2, 2019

Two more orcas are ailing and probably will be dead by summer, according to the region’s expert on the demographics of the critically endangered southern residents.

Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, said photos taken of J17 on New Year’s Eve showed the 42-year-old female has so-called peanut head, a misshapen head and neck caused by starvation. In addition K25, a 27-year-old male, is failing, also from lack of sufficient food. He lost his mother, K13, in 2017 and is not successfully foraging on his own.

“I am confident we are going to lose them sometime before summer,” Balcomb said.

Drone photography this past summer showed K25 to be noticeably thinner, and photos taken of him again in this winter show no improvement, Balcomb said.

Several whales were documented to be pregnant back in September, but so far there has been no sign of any babies. The southern residents have not had a successful pregnancy in three years.

The troubling news comes on top of a grim year in 2018 for the southern residents, the J, K, and L pods of fish-eating orcas that frequent the Salish Sea, which includes Puget Sound and the transboundary waters of the United States and Canada, as well as the West Coast of the United States.

The southern resident population is at a 35-year low after three deaths this past year in four months. There are only 74 left. “I am going to stop counting at 70,” Balcomb said. “What is the point?”

Losing J17 would be a blow to the southern residents because she is a female still of reproducing age, said Deborah Giles, research scientist for University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and research director for nonprofit Wild Orca. 

Giles said she was not surprised to hear about K25. The social dynamics of the southern residents, in which older females help their pod, and especially their sons by sharing food, is both a blessing and a curse if that female dies, Giles said.

“These large, adult, hungry males benefit by the females in their family,” Giles said. “There probably is still family foraging going on, but not like he had when his mom was alive.”

As for J17, “that is the worst of those two, the thought of losing her, she is such an important member for the southern resident community,” Giles said.

J17 is the mother of J35, or Tahlequah, who moved people around the world when in 2018 she carried her dead calf that lived for only one half-hour on her head for more than 1,000 miles over the course of 17 days.

The family already has been through a lot.

“We have no idea what that grandmother went through, watching her daughter carry around that baby as long as she did,” Giles said. “What would that have been like. To watch your daughter go through that grief and not have much you can do about it.”

The same family in 2016 also lost J54, a 1-year-old whale the whole family tried to support, especially his sister, J46, feeding him, and lifting the baby whale up with their teeth every time he started to sink. “The other whales were trying to support him,” Balcomb said. “He had tooth rakes all over his body, but it wasn’t malicious, he was sinking.”

It is hard to confront a new year with two whales already failing, Giles said. “It is this anticipatory grief. I am worried. And I am afraid.”

Drone photography taken this past September showed the southern residents went into the winter thinner than they were when the whales arrived in the San Juan Islands last summer. They also are thinner than the northern residents, which have been steadily growing in population for the past 40 years in their home waters primarily in northern B.C. and southeast Alaska, where they have access to more fish, and cleaner and quieter water. The northern residents gave birth to 10 new calves last year.

The southern residents look particularly thin next to the seal-eating transient, or Bigg’s, killer whales.

“They are like marshmallows,” Balcomb said.

The coming year is not looking any easier for the southern residents in terms of their food supply. The whales mostly eat chinook salmon.

Ocean conditions and poor river migration, with warm water and low flows, have hurt chinook salmon returns in the past several years. Even Columbia River fall chinook, a bright spot by comparison in the region, came back to the river in such low numbers last summer that a rare emergency fishing closure was enacted on the river from the mouth all the way to Pasco.

Only 186,862 fall chinook made it back below Bonneville dam in 2018, 65 percent below the 10-year average. Returns over Bonneville of jacks, or immature chinook, which can be a reliable predictor of this year’s return, were down to 61 percent below the 10-year average.

Columbia River chinook are important to the whales because they are among the biggest, fattiest fish of all. The whales also target chinook returning to rivers in Puget Sound, and in the summer, to the Fraser River. Those runs have been declining as well.

The whales’ behavior is changing as their food sources dwindle. They are arriving later and later in the San Juan Islands, because the Fraser River chinook runs they seek in those waters have so declined. The southern residents also are no longer often seen in large groups, in a pattern of feeding, then socializing, then resting before going on to a new spot.

“They do not have enough fish to feed them, they are spread out all over, we never seem them like it was 30, 40 years ago, when they would travel and find fish, then be playful, then rest, then travel again, that was the pattern,” Balcomb said.

“You don’t see them resting any more, they have to work all the time, every day.”

He said proposals put forward for the whales in the governor’s $1.1 billion budget for orca recovery, including a temporary ban on whale watching of the southern residents don’t go far enough.

“We need bold action,” Balcomb said. “Natural rivers and more chinook salmon.”

Source: Seattle Times

Advertisements

6.2 million Chinook Salmon fry die after power outage at hatchery

December 17, 2018

Last week’s windstorm cut the power to the Minter Creek Hatchery in Pierce County, in turn causing 6.2 million Chinook Salmon fry to die. The back up generator failed which caused the pumps that brought water into the tanks to fail.

The fish were kept in incubators at the hatchery. According to a press release from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the inventory of fish lost are 4.2 million Deshutes fall Chinook fry, 1.5 million Minter Creek fall Chinook fry and 507,000 White River spring Chinook fry.

“It’s a severe loss. It’s a challenge to try to recover from something like this. This particular species is not as age-class sensitive as other salmon species. But this is going to have a significant impact on adult returns,” said Jim Jenkins, WDFW South Puget Sound Hatchery Operations Manager.

The department was raising the White River spring Chinook as part of the state’s early efforts to provide more food for Southern Resident orcas. The Deschutes and Minter Creek fall Chinook were part of WDFW’s ongoing hatchery operations that support state fisheries.

“The department is conducting an analysis to determine the root cause of what went wrong so that we can improve procedures at Minter Creek and our other hatcheries to help ensure this doesn’t happen again,” said Eric Kinne, WDFW hatchery division manager.

Source: Koman News.com

Gov. Inslee proposes $1.1 billion budget to aid Puget Sound orcas

December 13, 2018

Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced his proposals for the state’s 2019-21 budget Thursday, and among the list of priorities is a $1.1 billion investment in the region’s orca population.

“We share so much with the orcas, we share about the same body temperature, we share about the same heart rate, we share close familial bonds and we share the need to defeat environmental degradation,” Inslee said. “When we save the orcas from toxins, when we save them from climate change, when we save them from pollution — we save ourselves.”

The governor’s proposal targets the lack of prey — Chinook salmon — that orcas rely on. It also addresses pollutants, vessel traffic, and the potential of breaching the lower four dams on the Snake River. The proposal follows up on task force recommendations released earlier this year which Inslee says he is embracing. It also follows the effort to save one ailing orca and the deaths of newborn calves over the past year that garnered many headlines.

The governor’s budget proposal states:

Besides helping orcas, these investments will have significant benefits for the region’s entire ecosystem and complement efforts to recover salmon, tackle climate change, improve water quality and more. These investments are based on actions most likely to yield strong benefits for Southern Residents orcas over the short term while setting up a sustainable, data-driven path for longer-term efforts.

Proposed funding includes:

-$363 million for salmon recovery.

-$296 million for the Washington State Department of Transportation to correct fish passage barriers.

-$6.2 million for greater enforcement with habitat protection laws.

-$75.7 million for the state’s hatchery system.

-$4.7 million to collect pinniped (sea lion) population information and to develop management actions.

-$524,000 to examine issues related to increasing Chinook population by reestablishing salmon runs above Chief Joseph Dam on the Columbia River.

-$117 million to covert two of the state’s ferries (Jumbo Mark II models) to hybrid-electric ferries (Inslee expects this to save the state $7 million in annual fuel costs).

Breaching the lower four Snake River dams is also mentioned in the proposal, which is part of a current federal process. Inslee wants to put $750,000 toward a task force to study the impacts and mitigation costs of such an action.

-Also included in the budget are proposed actions:

-A temporary three-year ban on all whale watching of Southern Resident orca, to be reviewed afterward to assess its effectiveness.

-$1.1 million for the Department of Fish and Wildlife to enforce the whale watching suspension.

-Increasing the distance between marine vessels and orcas to 400 yards, also a “go slow” zone within half a mile of orcas.

-Increased funding for toxic cleanups, including $3 million for local control programs; $4.2 million to speed up cleanups; $3.5 million to remove creosote structures; $57.8 million to clean up toxic sites; $51 million to reduce stormwater, $32 million to address contaminants from wastewater systems.

-Millions in funding for scientific support of the orca recovery effort.

Click here to read the story on mynorthwest.com.

Source: kiro7.com

Washington governor proposes major steps to prevent killer whales going extinct

December 13, 2018

With scientists warning that the Northwest’s beloved killer whales are on the brink of extinction, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced dramatic plans Thursday to help the population recover — including $1.1 billion in spending and a partial whale-watching ban.

“We are undertaking a herculean effort to save these iconic creatures,” Inslee said in a prepared statement. “It will take action at every level of the environment across our entire state.”

Starved by a dearth of salmon, poisoned by contaminants, and buffeted by vessel noise that hinders their hunting and communication, the orcas that live in the waters between Washington state and Canada’s Vancouver Island have failed to reproduce successfully in the past three years. One grieving whale carried her dead calf on her head for 17 days last summer in an apparent effort to revive it.

There are 74 left in the population, the lowest number since the 1970s, when hundreds of orcas were captured in the region and more than 50 were kept for aquarium display.

Inslee, who is mulling a Democratic presidential run in 2020, detailed the plans as part of his announcement of his priorities for the 2019-2021 state budget. The money would go toward protecting and restoring habitat for salmon, especially chinook, the orcas’ favored prey; boosting production from salmon hatcheries; storm-water cleanup; and quieting vessel traffic.

Nearly $300 million would go toward complying with a court order that requires the state to replace culverts that block the path of migrating salmon.

Money would also support developing plans to move or kill seals and sea lions that feast on Columbia River salmon where they get blocked by dams or other structures, and changing state water quality standards to allow more water to be spilled over dams, helping young salmon reach the ocean.

Inslee called for a new capital gains tax and an increase in business taxes to help cover the tab.

The governor also said he intends to ban commercial whale-watching of the local endangered orcas — known as the southern residents — for three years. He stressed that whale-watching will be allowed for other whales in Washington waters, including nonresident orcas that pass through, and that the state would undertake efforts to promote the industry to offset any lost business.

Inslee said he intended to permanently double the size of the “no-go zone” for vessels around orcas to 400 yards (365 meters) and create a “go slow zone” with reduced speed limits within a half-mile (926 meters). The Department of Fish and Wildlife would get $1.1 million for public education and enforcement.

His plans call for converting two state ferries to quieter electric hybrids and building two others as hybrids.

In a written statement, the Pacific Whale Watch Association did not directly address the proposed ban on whale watching. It said it is committed to protecting the whales and that it supports “science-based actions that will best support the future of these whales, including go-slow zones aimed at quieting the waters.”

“Responsible ecotourism is a healthy and critical piece of conservation and education,” the association said.

The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity has sued the federal government for not doing more to protect the full range of the orcas along the West Coast. Catherine Kilduff, the group’s attorney, called Inslee’s plans to reduce vessel noise a good first step.

But, as other environmentalists have done, Kilduff stressed that removing four major dams along the Snake River is essential for the recovery of salmon — and thus for the whales.

A federal court has already ordered the government to consider breaching the dams. Inslee’s proposal includes having a task force examine the implications of that — including whether irrigation, transportation and electricity provided by the dams could be offset, such as by shipping goods by truck or by rail or by boosting wind or solar power generation.

Republican U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, who represent Eastern Washington, said in a written statement Thursday that breaching the Snake River dams is out of the question.

“The people of Eastern Washington whose livelihoods depend on these dams should not be collateral damage for anyone’s presidential ambitions,” they said.

Source: NY Daily News.com

Orca protection measures hurting tourism: Vancouver Island business groups

December 6, 2018

Federal government efforts to save threatened southern resident killer whales could endanger the survival of communities on Vancouver Island whose economies depend on sport fishing and tourism revenues, a coalition of tourism, business and recreational fishing groups said Thursday.

About two dozen leaders gathered at a popular sport fishing marina near Victoria to warn the federal government almost 10,000 jobs are at stake as well as the futures of several cities, towns and villages on the Island that base their incomes on fishing and tourism.

The coalition calls itself Thriving Orcas, Thriving Communities and said the federal government has extended a 5,000 square kilometre critical habitat zone off the southwest coast of Vancouver Island that could result in fishing closures to protect the whales, whose population stands at 74.

Val Litwin, president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, said 18 communities have come together to form the coalition.

Karl Ablack of the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce said recreational fishing generates almost $1 billion for the B.C. economy and employs more than 8,400 people.

He said Port Renfrew, located about 100 kilometres northwest of Victoria, has transformed itself from a struggling forest-dependent community to a vibrant sport fishing destination.

To read the FULL article and watch VIDEO visit the source at Global News.ca

Endangered B.C. orcas contend with machine-gun fire and smoke bombs

November 23, 2018

The 74 critically endangered southern resident killer whales frequenting British Columbian waters are slowly starving to death. The last thing they need is to inadvertently swim into the line of fire of a naval machine-gun exercise, say whale researchers.

But that’s exactly what happens from time to time in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to longtime whale researcher Ken Balcomb.

An endangered southern resident killer whale breaches in the Haro Straight. Conservationists say southern resident orcas can’t lose many more whales before there are not enough of them to stop their slide toward extinction.

To read the rest of the story visit The Star.com

Washington lands chief asks lawmakers for $90 million to improve habitat for orcas, salmon

November 21, 2018

If approved, a $90 million budget request to the Washington state legislature could aggressively tackle what’s needed to help Puget Sound’s southern resident orcas survive.

A request on Monday by Hilary Franz, the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands, would increase the money already being spent on restoring habitats for salmon, removing barriers that inhibit the fish from reaching their spawning ground; researching ocean acidification; and removing rundown vessels on waterways, according to an emailed statement from the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The department’s previous two-year budget for similar programs and efforts cost the agency $55.5 million, according to Franz’s staff. The overall budget for the department last year was $351 million.

“The items that we’re calling for are not new,” Franz said in an interview. “We’ve been doing this work for our Puget Sound and rivers and lakes and ocean shorelines for quite some time. The difference is that we are asking for an increase in funding so we can rapidly accelerate this work because we don’t believe we have time to waste.”

The request directly addresses suggestions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca-recovery task force. The group issued a list of recommendations last week to save the animals, including breaching two dams to increase salmon returns and partly suspending southern resident whale-watching tours for up to five years. It includes $22 million in operating budget requests and $68 million for one-time capital budget projects.

The $90 million request comes amid heightened concerns for the critically endangered local orcas, which suffered three deaths over the summer and haven’t had any of their calves survive in three years due to the lack of chinook salmon and the effects of pollution and vessel traffic in Puget Sound.Advertisement (1 of 1): 0:12

“This is a key moment for us,” Franz said, “to stand up and say ‘Are we going to take action and prevent the demise and lose of our critical orca and salmon species?’ “

Franz is faced with the challenge of getting state legislators to approve her request, but she is confident now is the time to address the issue.

Source: TDN.com

Researchers investigate death of newborn orca

November 19, 2018

NOOTKA ISLAND, B.C., A dead newborn orca washed up on the shores of Nootka Island off Vancouver Island Friday.

KCPQ-TV reports Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans is performing a necropsy to determine cause of death and also whether it’s a southern resident, transient or other type of orca.

Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research tells Q13 News he does not believe it is from the local endangered southern resident population, but is waiting on DNA results to be sure.

Source: kgmi.com

The Orca Task Force finally has a plan. Will it work?

November 19, 2018

With time running out, the group presents a 30-page document meant to bring Washington’s endangered orcas back from the brink.

Over the past six months, representatives from Washington’s science, wildlife management, conservation, tribal, government, and business communities have convened to discuss how the state might attempt to reverse the rapid decline of resident killer whales living in Puget Sound. Now at a 30-year-low, just 74 members remain, with three dying this summer alone.

After Gov. Jay Inslee issued an executive order to create the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force in March, the group met for seven full-day negotiation sessions across the state, with nearly 150 people attempting to reconcile the needs of Pacific Northwest communities with its directive to produce both immediate and long-term plans for saving the Southern Residents. More than 18,000 citizens sent in public comments, and more than 250 people showed up in person to deliver those comments. The 49-member voting committee presented its final list of recommendations to Inslee this past Friday, releasing and discussing the 30-page document publicly at a press conference at the Seattle Aquarium.

The recommendations

The task force decided on 36 recommendations meant to address three main threats, which all have roots in human activity: lack of food, boat traffic, and chemical exposure. The majority of ideas addressed the orcas’ food shortage, which is the most imminent threat.

  • Increasing the number of Chinook salmon in Puget Sound The Southern Residents eat chinook salmon almost exclusively, and stocks have shrunk 60 percent since the Pacific Salmon Commission began tracking it 1984 — largely because of overfishing, dams, hatcheries management, habitat loss, and climate change. Proposals addressing this goal include expanding salmon habitat, increasing dam spill levels (the amount of water let out of reservoirs into salmon habitat), expanding hatchery salmon production, and limiting fishing. The most controversial recommendation here involves starting discussions for breaching or removing the Lower Snake River dams.
  • Reducing boat traffic Orcas share their home waters with barges, ferries, and whale-watching boats. Orcas waste time and energy avoiding boats rather than hunting, and boat noise interferes with their ability to hunt salmon. The task force recommends options like a limited-entry permit system on all whale-watching, go-slow areas for boats, limitations on shipping and drilling for oil, making ferries quieter and more fuel-efficient, and increasing the minimum distance required for boaters who encounter orcas. Most notably and contentiously, the task force has recommended a five-year moratorium on Southern Resident whale-watching.  
  • Mitigating chemical exposure Stormwater runoff carries toxic chemicals and other forms of pollution from roadways far into Puget Sound and the Salish Sea where it winds up in the tissue of Chinook salmon and ultimately in whale fat stores. Whale starvation exacerbates the danger: Without enough food, whales resort to burning fat for energy, which releases more toxins into their bloodstreams.

Mindy Roberts, Puget Sound program director for the Washington Environmental Council and a member of the task force’s contamination working group, acknowledges that the report’s recommendations might seem overwhelming — but there’s a lot that needs fixing.

“There was a pressure, I would say, to only limit this report to a few recommendations and I actually pressed back on that because I felt like our responsibility in the task force is to be honest about what the orcas need,” says Roberts. “What I’m seeing is a list of very ambitious actions and we are looking forward to turning those recommendations into actions through the legislature next year.”

Wins and losses

Dr. Deborah Giles, a killer whale researcher who served on the prey and vessel working groups, says she’s satisfied with the task force’s first-year recommendations.

“I think that on some [recommendations] we could have gone farther, and on others we may have jumped the gun a little fast… [and it] has been cumbersome to some degree, but ultimately it was an overall positive experience to move us in directions that have jump-started work and action certainly by years, if not by decades,” Giles says. “I might have jockeyed the recommendations around in a different order, but given how complicated these issues are, i’m actually pretty happy. Things could be better, but things could be a whole lot worse.”

Giles says the task force’s biggest wins had to do with “huge” habitat protections for salmon and limitations on incidental bycatch (the salmon fishermen are allowed to keep without targeting it). The task force is recommending that orca be taken into further account in the next negotiation of the international Pacific Salmon Treaty, a process which requires federal input.

Beyond individual solutions, task force co-chair Les Purce praised the process as a whole.

“Equally gratifying is the way that these people with such disparate backgrounds came together to accomplish that and to agree on a document of this magnitude and heft,” Purce says. “The vast majority of people came to an overall consensus, [and] when you weigh that against the fact that we had 36 recommendations, it’s really quite extraordinary.”

But not all task force members came away satisfied, and some abstained from the final vote in protest. This included Center for Whale Research founder Dr. Kenneth Balcomb, who has publicly disagreed with the task force’s approach over the last few months.

“I have to really decide whether or not this task force is for me or not — it doesn’t seem to be for the whales so, therefore, I think it’s not for me,” Balcomb told Q13 Fox News in September.

Balcomb reportedly hoped the task force would push for faster action on the Lower Snake River dams, and he disagreed with the recommended moratorium on whale-watching. He expressed further disapproval with the task force in early November in a Facebook post.

“Frankly, I am embarrassed for the conveners and participants of the Orca Task Force who had to endure blatant and ill-informed political manipulation of a process launched with the good intention of doing something bold to help recover the Southern Resident Killer Whales,” he wrote.

Public Response

On the day the task force presented its work, a group of activists calling themselves The Remaining 74 Assembly took to the Washington State Capitol’s Temple of Justice holding 74 paper orcas. They demonstrated in support of breaching the four dams along the Lower Snake River before the next legislative session.

“Today, let’s wake up our sleepy policy makers, and rebuke the sleepy Orca Task Force. Let’s tear down some dams,” said Michelle Seidelman, co-creator of the rally, to an assembled crowd.

“The monster dams are killing fish and orcas, and worst of all, there is no real need for the four deadly dams on the Lower Snake,” argued Howard Garrett, cofounder of Orca Network, at the event. “You’ve gotta undo all this misinformation, and there’s reams of it.”

Scientists we spoke with acknowledged that the task force initially considered recommending Inslee work with the Army Corps of Engineers on dismantling the dams. But with so many stakeholders affected by dam removal, Giles cautioned against forcing the action without buy-in from Eastern Washington communities.

“If they had tried to push this any faster than they did, trying to cram it into Year One, we would have been facing years of litigation, whereas if we have a calm arena in which to bring the science and the science can be hashed out in a safe, non-biased, communal place. I think that’s what it’s going to take,” Giles says. “You have biologists on both sides of the fence. We have to have an unbiased arbiter come and analyze the data and tell us once and for all, what is the economic and ecological impact to all of these different arenas? I’m confident that the science is going to back the removal.”

Roberts points to increased spill from dams as the best immediate course of action.

“To me, that’s the fastest way to get more smolt salmon out to the ocean from the whole Columbia River system, so we are looking forward to that moving forward quickly,” Roberts says.

Others joined Balcomb in criticizing the five-year moratorium on Southern Resident whale-watching. Citing the blow to tourism, the task force representing the Pacific Whale Watching Association voted against the final recommendation.

“I think a lot of folks are questioning if there’s science that says this is an absolute problem now,” Roberts says. “At this point, I feel like we should be taking the precautionary approach. And noise is something that we can turn off now that will have immediate impact.”

What’s next

Now that Inslee has recommendations in hand, some task force members hope the public will continue to pressure state government to act on them quickly enough to make an impact.

“Nobody should take their foot off the gas right now,” Giles says.  

But Purce notes that much of the hard work ahead resides with legislators and government officials. Every one of the recommendations requires government input, Purce says — from enacting changes in regulation to increasing enforcement of existing laws and policies.

“We’re very hopeful that the governor will embrace these recommendations, in terms of taking the first steps in providing the resources for what we’ve outlined,” Purce says. “It’s tough work for him and his staff. There are sizable budgetary items that will make the most effect, in regard to the orcas themselves, so, the next steps for us are going to be some really in-depth conversations with the legislature after the governor comes out with the budget and his priorities.”

Whether the orcas can last through typically slow-moving legislation is an open question, but Roberts thinks an engaged public is the orcas’ best shot.

“I do feel like the public has such unprecedented support for these actions — that’s what the legislators need to know in order for them to move quickly on this, so we’re optimistic,” she says. “We’ve had conversations with several legislators already and they were waiting for these recommendations and now there will be a ton of work over the next two months to turn those recommendations into legislation. The orcas really can’t stand in line any longer. That’s why it’s so important to take care of their needs in this next bi-annual budget which will kind of set the stage for 2019 through 2021. We can’t defer any of the big needs until the following bi-annual budget in 2021 to 2023. We just don’t have that time.”

As a researcher, Giles says being able to share and discuss her work directly on even footing with a vast assortment of interest groups felt significant. Being on the working groups allowed Giles to infuse policy discussions with the lived realities of Orcas like J-35, who carried the body of her dead calf for 17 days over the summer; and J-50, a malnourished young female, who succumbed to poor health in September.

“This process has afforded an opportunity for these diverse stakeholders to be in dialogue together in a way that has never happened before,” Giles says. “We’d been going around living our lives while this poor mom is still carrying around her baby, so I let the working group know.  When she ended up dying, I had somebody from Bonneville Power Administration email me a condolence email.”

“I would never have come into contact with this person before the task force,” she says. “If we ever talked, it would have just been my science saying, ‘your organization is running dams that are impacting the food source of the whales that I study that are starving.’”

Source: crosscut.com