ORCAS: Another Southern Resident Killer Whale in trouble

(File photo of calf J56 and mother J31, by Mark Sears. permit 21348)

Just a few weeks after the presumed death of Southern Resident Killer Whale K21, another resident orca is reported to be in bad shape – and this one is just two years old. News of J56’s condition is in a state Department of Fish and Wildlife news release today reminding boaters to give orcas space. In particular, the state has issued an emergency order for commercial whale-watching boats to stay at least half a mile away from J56 and the group with which she is traveling. The news release does not specify their last-known location but the Orca Network reported via its sightings email update that J-Pod was seen in the San Juan Islands earlier this week. Research has shown that vessel noise is a particular stressor for orcas, and that females tend to stop foraging for food when boats are within 400 yards. There’s more information here about giving whales space when you’re out on the water (and how to report violations if you see them).

16 Replies to "ORCAS: Another Southern Resident Killer Whale in trouble"

  • anonyme September 3, 2021 (5:40 pm)

    Southern residents need their own marine sanctuary where NO boats are allowed.  They are going to be extinct due to human greed and stupidity.  Humans won’t be far behind, but not soon enough to save species that actually deserve saving.

    • Ashley Deane September 4, 2021 (2:15 pm)

      I agree with you 100%! They are going to die off in my generation if we don’t DO something about it, anything about it. We need to be there making sure boats are following the restrictions. Like you said l, boats shouldn’t be allowed there at all. We know where they travel, make it a protected area. That’s what we do with this animal problem on land. Why should it be any different for marine animals?

  • WS New Guy September 3, 2021 (6:43 pm)

    time to shut the whale watching boats down. already proven that the Orca females get off their feed, when boats are too close.  time to fine them lots of money to discourage this behavior by humans. we love other mammals to death. way to go!like what happened last summer, bunch a people in the boats harassing the pod down at the Tacoma narrows. what a bunch of jerks!

    • Ashley Deane September 4, 2021 (2:20 pm)

      I don’t understand how and why there are still whale watching tours in their waters. It’s disgusting how people claim to love them but go Whale Watching while knowing it will stress the whales.

  • BetteDavisEyes September 3, 2021 (7:25 pm)

    If certain commercial whale-watching boat operators aren’t smart enough to respect and protect the very animals upon whom their own livelihoods depend, maybe it’s time to provide them with better incentives to stop chasing and interfering with OUR orcas.  I don’t know what the penalties are now, but perhaps a minimum fine of $50K to $100K for the first offense and then vessel confiscation and business license revocation for the second offense might get their attention.  If we’re not serious about this, how can we expect boat operators to take it seriously?

  • Sailor September 3, 2021 (9:34 pm)

    The boats are a very big part of the problem but so is the overfishing. Giving the salmon a few years off, especially from the gill nets that some may stretch literally across the rivers, would benefit these orcas immensely.  Salmon have a comparatively short life cycle and they really could rebound if given the chance.  We aren’t dealing with rockfish or cod here. I work out on the sound nearly every day and see how the local salmon are being seriously depleted.Don’t assume that fishing is being properly managed. It’s not. Not even close. The orcas are starving and nothing is being done about it. Tell Olympia. Tell them immediately. 

    • Paula Hightower September 4, 2021 (3:26 am)

      I was just talking about  this very situation! Ty for keeping it upfront,it has been way to long!

  • Sabrina Beard September 3, 2021 (11:56 pm)

    I really think whale watching boats need to just stop and let these Orcas be their not doing well either cause the fisherman are taking all the food resources for the greedy people in this world. The fact that they don’t limit people on the fish and crab and lobsters is killing other marine wildlife. 

  • Herongrrrl September 3, 2021 (11:58 pm)

    Please learn about the full spectrum of threats faced by the southern resident killer whales. It is a highly complex issue, far beyond boats and overfishing, encompassing things as ubiquitous as tire rubber and pavement. Before you point a finger at an easy to see target, consider what you are doing to protect and restore habitat for salmon, forage fish, and killer whales here in the Salish Sea. Here’s a great place to start.https://youtu.be/68UqvCz-iPk (Orca Behavior Institute Q&A about K21 Cappuccino and J56 Tofino.)

  • Lifer in Puget Sound September 4, 2021 (4:16 am)

    Let’s get real. No one and I mean no one can even perceive a half a mile avoidance on anything on the water. Maybe 200 yards. I’m a lifelong boater and many time you just happen on things. Anything beyond realistic is just plain stupid. Some of you commented and I swear your just not in reality. Tourism pressure is one thing….private boating is another.

  • For orca mammas September 4, 2021 (6:50 am)

    Heartbreaking to see these orcas suffering.

    The three biggest threats to SRKW’s are:

    Lack of food, particularly Chinook salmon


    Vessel impacts

    Its good to hear others comments of concern regarding aspects of issues impacting orcas. Boats are one of the main issues for orca’s. Lack of fish is a huge issue for orca’s, and this is more complex than just fishing, but overfishing is part of it. Toxins are another key issue, and there is a lot to learn here in regards to our individual impacts which harm the environment and also are impacting orcas. We can adjust aspects of our lifestyles and consumptions and make choices that will be better for the environment and for orca’s. But, we also need to keep talking about all the concerns and apply pressure for change where it’s needed, and urgently!

  • Pollutionfrom vehicle tires inH20 September 4, 2021 (8:47 am)

    https://youtu.be/vxmojuC_dJE Information on research that found chemicals in vehicle tires that flows into our creeks/puget sound can be found here from Washington Stormwater Center. I believe Dr. Jen McIntyre is/was a west seattle resident too.We are all doing daily activities that is killing the salmon that the orcas need to survive. 

  • WSCurmudgeon September 4, 2021 (1:04 pm)

  • sunflower September 6, 2021 (7:48 am)

    It is shame there is another southern resident killer whales in bad shape, why cannot NOAA, or USA or Canada fisheries and other Orca organizations try to intervene and help J56 who is only 2 years old and has her whole life ahead of her especially she will have her own offspring in future which is critical for Southern Resident killer whales population? Please do something about it and help J56 than letting her waste away, look what happened with Springer and her story, we need good meaningful stories about these killer whales. Please don’t give up on these endangered killer whales.

    • anonyme September 6, 2021 (3:14 pm)

      Sunflower, I agree.  There should be some kind of intervention.  If a human child were starving in front of our very eyes, would we stand back and let it starve?  Just because it is another species does not mean we should not help – especially as humans are directly to blame for their plight.  Orcas are members of our extended community.  There should be an immediate cessation of all fishing and boating in their domain.  THEIR domain; NOT ours.

    • Sunflower September 6, 2021 (8:46 pm)

      Appreciate your comment, with concern for orcas!

      Btw, fyi, the username ‘sunflower’ is already being used here, I’ve been using it for the last year or so, please use a different name or variation. How about ‘sunflower too’? ;)

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