With news of multiple pregnancies among the endangered and dwindling Southern Resident killer whale population, local activists, experts, and agencies are calling for boaters to steer clear of the whales. Every successful birth is hugely important for the recovery of these struggling orca pods, and the threats faced by the orcas are human caused. Such threats include lack of salmon, toxins in the water, and noise and disturbance from boats.
As a boater, the best thing you can do to protect the orcas is to reduce your noise and disruption when on the water. By giving the whales plenty of space (1,000 yards) you will make it easier for them to hunt for food, socialize, rest, and raise healthy young orcas.
Please consider taking the Pledge to Protect Southern Resident Orcas by clicking here.
As a boater in the Salish Sea, I pledge to protect the southern resident orcas, and give the pregnant orcas in all three pods the best possible chance of having healthy calves, by giving them more space and quieter waters to find food and communicate with each other. Over the next year:
I commit to staying 1/2 nautical mile (1,000 yards or 1 kilometer) away from the endangered southern resident orcas, to give them the space and quiet that they need.
If I encounter orcas, I will not approach or follow them, but instead will slow down (as Washington State law requires) to reduce noise, and quietly depart, to a distance of at least ½ nautical mile where possible.
If unable to differentiate between the endangered southern resident orcas and transient orcas, I will treat all orcas as southern residents and take the aforementioned precautions.
I will encourage people I know who own or operate boats (motorized or non-motorized) to also take this pledge.
For more information on the importance behind protecting these beautiful creatures: