"The SOUTHERN RESIDENT KILLER WHALES (SRKWs) are a clan of orcas who have long called the Salish Sea home. This group of whales consists of three pods—J-pod, K-pod, and L-pod totaling 75 whales. Each pod has unique calls they prefer but all three share the same repertoire of calls and can communicate with each other. Inter-pod socialization and mating takes place during social gatherings and when all 75 whales meet up the event is called a superpod. They are incredibly intelligent, social, and tactile animals with many apparent traditions of their own. Though they are called “residents” they do not live here year-round but travel up and down the coast in the search for their preferred prey, wild Pacific Chinook salmon. Throughout the years they have faced many threats, including live captures during the 1960s and 1970s, dwindling food sources, and toxins in their environment. As their numbers dwindled it was determined that without serious help these whales were at risk of going extinct. Because of this they were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2005. Their numbers have not recovered since the listing and continue to decline. Time is running out but there is still hope." - Sara Shimazu Salish Sea Naturalist
"J-POD is the pod who spends the most time in the inland waters known as the Salish Sea. Historically, this group of whales was seen here every month of the year. It is well known for it’s iconic pod members—Ruffles (J1) and Granny (J2). Today it consists of six families that travel together—the J14s, J16s, J17s, J19s, J11s, and J22s—totaling 23 whales. Up until the fall of 2016 the matriarch of this pod was Granny. When she passed there were many questions about who might take up the mantle of matriarch, or if any one whale would, but it seems at least for the time being that Shachi (J19) has stepped into the role. An adult male from L-pod, Onyx (L87), travel exclusively with this pod and has for several years."- Sara Shimazu Salish Sea Naturalist
Ruffles (J-1) was first seen during a capture operation in October 1968. He was captured but later released because he was too big to transport. He was featured in the Free Willy movies and was photographed by thousands of visitors from around the world. Researchers followed his movements for decades, and naturalists have journals full of chronicles about him.J-1 Estimated to have been born in 1951, "Ruffles" was a full grown adult when the study began in 1976. He was well known for his tall dorsal with it's wavy trailing edge.
Up until his death in 2010, he was closely associated with J2 "Granny" and is believed to be her son.
"K-POD has long been the smallest pod in the Southern Resident community. Up until the death of Skagit (K13) in 2017 this pod had not increased or decreased in several years and now numbers 18 whales. The newest member of the pod is Ripple (K44) who was born in 2011. K-pod is known to range widely and based on the toxin levels recorded in their blubber we know they spend time ranging the Pacific west coast, with recordings of them as far south as Monterey Bay. Today this pod consists of four families and one single male—the K12s, K13s, K14s, K16s, and K21." -Sara Shimazu Salish Sea Naturalist
Estimated to have been born in 1972, K12 "Sequim" is one of the matriarchs of K-pod. She has three surviving offspring, daughter K22 "Sekiu", son K37 "Rainshadow", and youngest daughter K43 "Saturna". She is also the grandmother to K33 "Tika". Sequim (c. 1972) was named after a Makah native village located on the Olympic Peninsula. Sequim appeared to have a close relationship with Ruffles (J-1) and they often spent time with him and Granny's (J-2) group when in the inland waters in the summer.
"L-POD is the largest pod in the Southern Resident community though it is also the pod that is decreasing the most. Currently there are 33 whales spread across ten matrilines, though some of these matrilines now consist of only a single, adult whale. These families are the L11s, the L22s, L25, L85, L26s, L47s, L72s, L4s, L54s, L88, and L84. The L11s, L22s, L25, and L85 travel together and are commonly called the L12s. L-pod is a very fractured pod and don’t frequently travel as one large group. Ino (L54) along with her children, Nyssa (L84), and Wave Walker (L88) most frequently travel separately from the rest of L-pod. Spirit (L22) has a younger brother, Onyx (L87) who travels exclusively with J-pod and has for several years."-Sara Shimazu Salish Sea Naturalist
L-12 "Alexis" is estimated to have been born in 1933 she was the presumed grandmother of L41 "Mega", L77 "Matia", and L94 "Calypso", which makes her the presumed great grandmother of L119 "Joy" and L113 "Cousteau".
Meet the Fish
In order to save our Southern Resident Orcas we need to protect their main food source: Chinook Salmon. The Southern Resident Orcas rely upon Chinook Salmon for 80% of their diet and in order for the population of SRKWs to survive, they must consume a half a million salmon per year or 385 lbs of fish a day, per whale. If our whale population was at a healthy level of 120 individuals, then the Salish Sea would need to provide one million salmon per year.
Chinook Salmon (King):
The Chinook Salmon is the largest species of all the salmon and the overall lifeline of the Southern Resident Orcas. This endangered species spends their first year of life in the same river their parents were born in before they swim to the ocean for 3-4 years, generally.
If there is one simple, powerful thing we can do to save the SRKWs it would absolutely be to take down the Snake River Dam ASAP to help re-populate these majestic salmon. They are Kings, afterall.
Salmon of the Salish
Also known as "Reds", the Sockeye is the third most common salmon. The first two years of life are spent in freshwater followed by an additional two years in the ocean. Once they come back to spawn they give their life to make new life.
Re-Population Of Salmon
Let The Salmon Return Home
Pictured here is the former Elwha River Dam. The deconstruction of this dam and the immediate recovery of our Salmon and the surrounding environment is proof that through our actions of removing such dams we can help save our Salmon.
Sound and Boat Traffic
How Loud is it?
The reason large vessels are such a major factor in underwater noise is that they produce sounds that are both loud and predominantly low-frequency and, as a consequence, can travel over large distances underwater. While engine noise vibrating through the hull contributes to the overall noise that ships produce ship, the greatest contribution to vessel noise is propeller cavitation, when large numbers of vacuum bubbles created by the motion of propellers collapse.28 The fact that propeller cavitation is such a significant factor in the noise generated by shipping may prove to be a boon in addressing that noise. Heavily-cavitating propellers are inefficient, because cavitation is a form of turbulence that creates extra drag on the propeller blades, so that greater energy is required to drive the ships; meanwhile the constant implosion of air bubbles eats away at the propellers themselves. Reducing cavitation is therefore in the best interests of both marine life and the shipping industry.
Visit the Ocean Noise Report to discover all the problems and solutions in great detail.