Who are the Southern Resident Killer Whales?

The Southern Resident Killer Whales are a population of killer whales that live in the Pacific Northwest. They are often seen in the Salish Sea. Sadly, there are only 74 of them left. They are considered endangered. Their primary food source, Chinook salmon, are becoming increasingly scarce. Overfishing and dams in the snake river are depleting the fish population. The dams in the Snake River are outdated and should be removed. Removing them would bring back the lost fish and give the whales the food they need.

In August of 2020, the US Navy got approval for dangerous military testing that could kill the remaining whales. The situation is urgent.

L41 "Mega". Photo Credit: Dave Ellifrit

Why should I care?

Killer whales are extremely intelligent and emotional animals. Each population has their own distinct languages and culture. Their vocalizations are so unique that killer whales that have been separated from their families for decades can still recognize them. Calves spend their entire lives with their mothers. Pods will assist their sick and injured family members. Without food, these whales cannot thrive.

In 2016, J28 "Polaris" passed away, leaving her 10 month old son, J54 "Dipper", alone. For days he was too weak to swim and delerius. His 7 year old sister, J46 "Star", desperately tried to bring him to the surface to breathe and offered him fish to eat. His body was covered in teeth marks from the many times his sister grabbed him. Sadly, without his mother to nurse him, he starved.

In July of 2018, J35 "Tahlequah", a female killer whale, lost her calf just minutes after birth. The grief-stricken mother carried her daughter's body for 17 days and over 1000 miles. She refused to leave her daughter behind, carrying the body even when she was visibly weak and hungry.

On September 4th, 2020, "Tahlequah" gave birth to a new calf, a son dubbed J57 by researchers. Only a few days later another calf, J58, was born to J41 “Eclipse”. In a poll held by the Whale Museum in December of 2020, J57 was named “Phoenix” and J58 was named “Crescent”. Although the babies appear to be strong and healthy, they will need salmon to grow and survive. With the dams in place and the Navy threatening their safety, this cannot happen.

J35 "Tahlequah" and her deceased calf. Photo Credit: Center for Whale Research

J35 "Tahlequah" and her new son, J57 “Phoenix”. Photo Credit: Katie Jones, Center for Whale Research

How can I help?

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