Be an Orca Steward! No matter where in the world you live, your actions make a difference.

The Southern Resident Community of Killer Whales is listed federally as an endangered species. In 2001, COSEWIC listed Southern Residents as endangered, known in Canada as a Species At Risk. In May 2001, an Endangered Species petition was submitted to the U. S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to get the Southern Resident Community listed in the United States. In the summer of 2002, NMFS rejected this proposal, instead listing them as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. In early 2005, NMFS proposed a threatened designation. In November, 2005, NMFS listed the Southern Resident Community as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. This went into effect in February, 2006. 

In 2001 Canada listed the Southern Resident Community as "endangered." Pollution, dwindling salmon stocks, and high vessel traffic around the whales were cited as reasons for the listing. The fact that the population of J, K and L pods has not exhibited sustained growth in the last 25 years also concerns researchers.

Worldwide, there is no available count of how many wild orcas exist. They are found in every ocean of the world, with the greatest concentrations in the colder waters of the Antarctic, Pacific Northwest, and around Iceland and Norway.

Environmental education may be the strongest ally the orcas have. It is only through an understanding of the whales' needs for habitat and food resources that we can develop the conservation policies which will ensure their survival. The Whale Museum hosts exhibits and sponsors educational and stewardship programs on behalf of the orcas.

The United States is not the only country concerned about these orcas. In 2001, Canada listed them as a "species-at-risk" (equivalent of the U.S.'s "endangered") under a federal regulation that is less restrictive than the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Although no one can say for sure what is causing the decrease in the orca population, researchers agree that the following four issues are likely contributors:

  • Pollution: Researchers have determined that the Southern Resident orcas are among the most contaminated animals on Earth.
  • Food Shortage: Sixteen salmon stocks have been listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Salmon are the primary source of food for these orcas.
  • Vessel Effects: J, K and L pods are subject to some of the highest levels of vessel traffic (and noise) of any whales in the world.
  • Low Population Size: Researchers say that when populations reach critically low levels, they may never rebound.

In addition to the ideas found above, proceeds from all items you buy from The Whale Museum—such as an Orca Adoption or merchandise from our Online Store—support our ongoing research and education efforts on behalf of the whales.

Everything is connected. No matter where in the world you live, your actions make a difference!  Here are 10 easy things anyone can do anywhere to be a good steward:

  1. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
  2. Make your vote count.
  3. Be an informed consumer.
  4. Use a Seafood Watch card. AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE WHALE MUSEUM! Open net-pen farmed salmon in British Columbia (in the Salish Sea/Pacific Ocean) was recently upgraded on the Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program list as a “good alternative.  The Whale Museum disagrees and thinks that this is not an acceptable alternative. While Seafood Watch programs are helpful tools, they are just one tool in our tool box. Species are listed based on sustainable harvest and management for human consumption needs. But what about the orcas’ needs and the  other marine mammals who also depend on ocean resources for daily living? Consumption of any salmon should be carefully considered and balanced with the needs of all of our ocean life who depend on salmon for their survival. As humans, we are responsible to steward our planet and its oceans, making the best choices for all creatures. It is past time to stop thinking of the ocean as a resource to be used without consideration for other species native to these waters. As people who care deeply for our orcas and their survival, we should consider their food needs first: where does it come from and how plentiful is the supply. Then, go one step further and factor in the total system needs before consuming any food that comes from a marine ecosystem. This is one way to help an ecosystem stay healthy or regain its health. The mission of The Whale Museum is to promote stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research.  We feel strongly about protecting the Southern Resident orcas’ waters and their prey. And we feel compelled to share with you our concerns regarding the food choices you might make. Ask questions and get answers as to where the food you are about to purchase and consume came from. Being an informed consumer gives you the knowledge to make the best decision for you and your family...and the orcas!
  5. Go organic.
  6. Use only biodegradable cleaning supplies.
  7. Reduce the use of any/all chemicals in and around your home.
  8. Shop local.
  9. Get involved in local clean-up efforts... or start one of your own.
  10. Spread the word!

Support The Whale Museum's research and education efforts by donating now or adopting an orca.

Want to get involved, stay informed and be engaged?