Salish Sea Orcas
Photo credit: Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research

Salish Sea Orcas SOS

*Another dead wolf, J50, of the Salish Sea, the third one in 2018. The Pacific Northwest’s picturesque sea is being lambasted by a man-made accelerated climate crisis, hideous poisons and the man-driven Sixth Mass Extinction, which has shifted into overdrive.

Salish Sea Map
foo Photo credit: Crag Law Center

The Salish Sea is a global hotspot for acidification, a glaring symptom of burning more subsidized climate-destroying fossil fuels. As the sea absorbs more carbon dioxide from fossil fuels it’s rapidly deforming shellfish and coral reefs because acid melts calcium carbonate the backbone of both shells and reefs. The Salish Sea web of life is quickly unravelling.

At the top of the Salish Sea food chain, the critically endangered pods (J,K,L) of Southern Resident orcas are wasting away. The past 18 months have been horrendous.”

Salish Sea Orcas - Granny Breaching
Granny breaching in the Salish Sea (1998)
Photo credit: Center for Whale Research

Last year (2017), we lost J2, or, Granny. She was the matriarch at 105 years old. Granny possessed ecological wisdom. She relied upon her deep memory bank, guiding her pod (and the other two) during lean Chinook salmon times.

The Southern Residents are all starving to death and even Granny’s wisdom couldn’t locate the Chinooks. Man has destroyed Chinook habitat with development, hydro dams and fished them to near extinction.

As if that news wasn’t shocking enough, the latest report from the University of British Columbia (UBC) adds the nails to the Southern Resident’s coffins.


Man has treated the Salish Sea as a sewer. The city of Victoria has pumped primary treated sewage into the sea since 1871.


Salish Sea salmon are full of Puget Sound’s cocaine, crystal meth, an array of pharmaceutical drugs and industrial long-lasting deadly chemicals, e.g. PCBs and methylmercury.

My colleagues at UBC revealed that as the sea surface temperature increases it will speed up the biological accumulation of both PCBs and methylmercury in salmon and orcas.

Allow me to remind you that when apex, or, top of the food chain predators like orcas eat contaminated salmon, that poison biologically magnifies many times up the food chain.

Orcas are able to store poisons in their blubber, or, fat cells. When famine sets-in, these top of the food chain predators must tap into their fat deposits. In so doing, they poison themselves.

When poisons accumulate in orcas (like all animals), they are incapable of conceiving and/or successfully reproducing.

The North Atlantic Ocean is so toxic that the UK’s orcas have not reproduced for 25 years. They are doomed to extinction because PCBs in that ocean are highly abundant.”

Salish Sea Orcas - Crewser
Crewser patrolling the shoreline along the Salish Sea often seen with his auntie L90, or, Spirit.
Photo credit: Center for Whale Research

Earlier this summer (2018), I reported on the death of 23-year-old L92, or, Crewser. It brought the beleaguered Southern Resident population down to just 75.

On July 24, 2018, 20-year-old J35, or, Tahlequah, gave birth. The first new birth of a Southern Resident in possibly five years, according to Dr Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale ResearchFriday Harbor, Washington.

Salish Sea Orcas - Tahlequah
Tahlequah grieving whilst carry her dead calf on July 25, 2018.
Photo credit: Dr Ken Balcomb/Center for Whale Research

About 45 minutes after birth the calf expired. The world watched in astonishment as our sister, Tahlequah, grieved for a record 17 straight days. For more than 400 hours she swam nonstop for 1,000 miles with her decomposing calf in her mouth. J pod followed her, as they too grieved, just like humans do when we lose a loved one.

On September 13, 2018, 3-year-old emaciated J50, or, Scarlet, was presumed dead after three days of scouring the sea, closely watching her family and mother J16, or, Slick. The Southern Residents are now down to 74.

Salish Sea Orcas - Scarlet
A young Scarlet with her mother Slick in January 2015.
Photo credit: Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research

The Salish Sea orcas are modern-day canaries in the coalmines. We are racing extinction.

Make no mistake, what we are witnessing in the Salish Sea with our brethren, the orcas, is a microcosm of our planet. We are all one inescapably interconnected with our mother, Nature.

It’s high time that we wakeup and take immediate corrective actions:

  • End all Salish Sea fisheries (commercial & recreational).
  • Ban fossil fuel supertankers from entering into the Salish Sea.
  • Remove four dams on the lower Snake River to repair Chinook salmon habitat.
  • Close all British Columbia salmon farms.
  • Reduce fossil fuel emissions immediately.
  • End all fossil fuel subsidies ($5.3 trillion annually) now.
  • Reduce ocean noise by banning seismic surveys for more climate-destroying fossil fuels.
  • Ban the use of mercury as a gravity fed amalgam by 15 millionpeople daily in 70 countries mining for gold.
  • No new coalmines.

Ladies and gentlemen consume less. Become a vegan. Join the resistance to save Nature now.Sea ShepherdPlease support the direct-action movement Sea Shepherd because they are protecting the masterpieces, the orcas!




Dr. Reese Halter

Dr Reese Halter is an award-winning broadcaster, distinguished conservation biologist and author.

Dr Reese Halter’s latest book is
Love! Nature

Tweet @RelentlessReese


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