In this episode, Team SeaDoc works with scientists trying to save the Salish Sea’s most iconic and endangered species: the Southern Resident killer whale. The goal is to collect critical health and diet data from each of the 73 surviving animals. So how does a wildlife veterinarian make a house call to do non-invasive medical tests on 10-ton killer whales in the open sea? It takes sharp eyes and a fine mesh net.
In early August, three Southern Resident killer whales were declared dead by the Center for Whale Research. That brings the population down to just 73. Each of the dead whales are from separate Southern Resident pods.
“There is nothing good about losing three animals in a population that was numbered at 76,” said SeaDoc Science Director Joe Gaydos. “In no way can I find a silver lining to this news.”
SeaDoc Society Science Director Joe Gaydos speaks about SB 5577 (Orca whales/vessels) to the Washington Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee on Feb 12th, 2019. Watch Joe’s statement below:
Want to call your legislator and share your thoughts about Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery? Do it today!
The Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) is a flagship species, a cultural icon, and an economic driver for Washington State. However, depleted Chinook salmon stocks, vessel-related noise and disturbance, and increasingly polluted waters put the orca population at risk of extinction. Efforts are underway to aid and support orca recovery, but these efforts are time consuming and expensive.
Herring are a small fish that play a big role up the food chain, and at the moment scientists don’t know nearly enough about their health status in the Salish Sea. That’s why SeaDoc funded a study that helped bring many top herring experts together for the first time–a crucial first step in ensuring their future.
The team recently published a report, “Assessment and Management of Pacific Herring in the Salish Sea: Conserving and Recovering a Culturally Significant and Ecologically Critical Component of the Food Web,” which included the creation of a model that simulated how herring populations respond to key environmental stressors under various scenarios.