Become an Ocean Keeper
The fate of the Salish Sea orcas hangs in the balance. These 76 orcas — also known as the southern resident killer whales — are Canada’s most endangered marine mammal. Immediate actions are needed to set up refuges, reduce acoustic noise, address pollution and protect Chinook salmon, the whales’ primary prey. Climate change and a projected seven-fold increase in tanker traffic from the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion make immediate action more urgent than ever.
The interdependence between orcas and salmon illustrates the importance of healthy ocean ecosystems. If we don’t recover declining Chinook salmon, one of our most iconic whale populations likely won’t survive.
Salish Sea orcas
There are only 76 Salish Sea orcas left – and this number is falling. If we don’t help them now, it will be too late. With the strength of one collective voice, we will be heard.
Where we are now
We protect wild Pacific salmon by advocating that the government follow its Wild Salmon Policy and recommendations from the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. We partner with academics, government decision-makers and other non-profits to make our policy recommendations stronger. Our scientists sit on committees that advise government on how best to reform Canada’s Fisheries Act to protect wild fish and their habitats.
We limit impacts from open-net-pen fish farms to wild salmon by working with committees and the aquaculture industry to improve health monitoring, disease reporting and data transparency for fish farms. Our supporters add their voices through consultation and letters to officials to create pressure for change.
The Species at Risk Act could protect southern resident killer whales and save them from a local extinction, but only if the action plan for recovery is implemented. Our scientists brief government agencies on the best ways to recover this whale population. We amplify our voice by encouraging our supporters to share their ideas during public consultations and to inform elected officials about their concerns.
A large male orca weighs nearly as much as two Ford 150 pickup trucks.
One large ship transits the Salish Sea, on average, every hour of every day of every year.
The southern resident killer whale pod requires about 1,400 Chinook salmon every day.
Watch this wonderful moment — captured on film by Scott Wallace, Senior Research Scientist — of a family orca encounter.
7 million years
Large saber-tooth salmon fossils indicate that salmon have been in Pacific waters for at least seven million years.
Salmon migrations can stretch up to 3,000 kilometres.
11 of 15
11 of 15 south coast Chinook populations are highly depleted and require immediate conservation actions.
Government takes bold, necessary action to protect orcas
Measures announced May 10 by the federal government mark a positive and necessary step to support the survival and recovery of southern resident killer whales, and are the result of significant work done by First Nations, stakeholders and communities.
Director General, Western Canada
Saving the whales, and the whale watchers
Whale-watching boats are making it difficult for southern resident orcas to feed when they are literally starving. We can address this problem by keeping boats farther from the whales, slowing them down and keeping them out of key foraging areas.
Senior Research Scientist
Salish Sea orcas need immediate actions to survive
Even though the government acknowledges that Salish Sea orcas face imminent threats to their survival, government actions fall short to ensure the whales' survival. With members of the population being lost to starvation, it couldn’t be more urgent for the government to act.
Senior Science and Policy Analyst