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  • Writer's pictureMadison Churchill

Orca Saving Quarantine Actions You Can Take Today

During this time of global uncertainty, it’s important to step back and celebrate the positives and find ways to help our planet heal. In just a few rapidly changing weeks, we have seen how the Earth responds to a slow in pace. While human movement eases to a quiet halt, we start to see how quickly the planet speaks back.

Pollution maps all around the world show that in just a few weeks, the atmospheric CO2 has reduced dramatically. Animals are wandering back into big cities that used to be their habitats. Many fishing operations have slowed or been shut down around the globe. Boat traffic has greatly reduced through the Salish Sea. Our Southern Resident orcas can now enjoy their favorite feeding grounds and communicate effectively without the sound of dozens of fishing, shipping, and tour boats. It’s incredible to see how resilient the Earth can be when we all take a moment to slow down.

While we are all resting at home during this time, there are a few actions we can take to continue helping the ocean from our homes.

Handwritten letters to the government. All of this extra free-time is a great chance to hand- write meaningful letters to Governor Jay Inslee to help the Southern Resident orcas. Handwritten letters hold much more weight than typed or e-mailed letters. Tell him you don’t want to see the Southern Residents go extinct, and that we need to breach the Lower 4 Snake River dams immediately in 2020, because they kill upwards of 8 million baby salmon per year, which our orcas need to survive.

Support local artists and freelancers. Buying local art and photography can really help freelance artists and small business owners during these times. Plus, if you’re quarantined in your home, it’s nice to have new art to look at! Especially the kind that reminds you of the ocean. There are many artists around Washington that even donate a portion of your proceeds to different ocean conservation projects. Stay current on environmental legislature. It’s hard to not be distracted with everything going on right now, but it’s important to keep an eye on local legislature, and continue to vote on environmental matters. We are still awaiting results on the EIS statement on the Lower 4 Snake River Dams. Practice intentional buying of plastic. In other words, avoid panic-buying mass amounts of plastic. Many people are stocking up on supplies right now, but it’s important to step back and consider what is realistically needed. When stocking up, try to find grocery stores that sell items in bulk bins, like co-op grocery stores. Most of these places will allow you to use reusable bags still for bulk-bin items like rice, beans, lentils, granola, etc. This can help to drastically reduce the amount of plastic we waste. Reducing consumption of plastic has numerous impacts on the ocean.

If you’d like to learn more about the impacts of plastics while at home this week, check out the documentary Plastic Ocean, available on Netflix.

Sustainable seafood. Many people are stocking up on frozen or even canned fish as an act of emergency preparedness. During this time, please avoid purchasing of salmon. Our orcas need them to live, but we have other options. If you do insist on consuming seafood, be sure to focus on finding sustainable catch. It’s also good to avoid stockpiling cans of tuna, which have some of the most unsustainable fishing practices of any seafood. They are caught with long drift nets which can entangle large cetaceans and other fish that aren’t their target species. Most sustainable seafood brands should have information online about their catch practices.

Use your words to advocate. With everybody staying home, many of us are spending more time on our phones than normal. Use this time to advocate for the Southern Residents on your social media! With a wider at-home audience, it’s a great time to talk about the orcas’ plight and bring more attention to saving them. Tell your friends and family, and inspire them to join the fight! These are just a few ideas of how you can still help the environment from the comfort and safety of your own home. We would love to hear your ideas! How are you helping the orcas from home?

We will all get through this together. It’s important to look at the things that are thriving in the absence of humans, and gain perspective for our true impact on the planet. Our hope is to leave this situation with a heightened sense of togetherness, and a deeper connection to our earth.

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