Whale researcher predicts two more orca deaths this year – Seattle Times


As I’ve stated before in this column, there is not much time left for the resident Orca pod. The Governor’s ideas from the task force are a nice batch of projects, but likely the only hope, and it’s slim at best, seems to be to do all he wants, but go beyond it and breach the Snake River dams this year. It’s possible to do, but would be politically very hard. But there is no other way to get enough smolts out to see quickly. The numbers are just not there. The discussion should be started at once to get the issue on the table in a serious way.  Even if it means Jay killing off his chance at President. Because that is what it would likely do.

Two more orcas are ailing and probably will be dead by summer, according to the region’s expert on the demographics of the critically endangered southern residents. Ken Balcomb, founding director of the Center for Whale Research, said photos taken of J17 on New Year’s Eve showed the 42-year-old female has so-called peanut head, a misshapen head and neck caused by starvation. In addition K25, a 27-year-old male, is failing, also from lack of sufficient food. He lost his mother, K13, in 2017 and is not successfully foraging on his own…. The southern resident population is at a 35-year low after three deaths this past year in four months. There are only 74 left. “I am going to stop counting at 70,” Balcomb said. “What is the point?” Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

Two more Puget Sound orcas predicted to die in critically endangered population

One Response

  1. Ken Balcomb has been saying since at least 2010 that the 4 Snake River Dams needed to be breached, to increase chinook salmon supply for the Southern Residents.

    Ken and numerous other orca/salmon scientists provided scientific analysis to Gov. Inslee and the OTF that the best, and maybe only, way to recover chinook and hence Southern Resident Orcas is to breach these dams to improve salmon migration and survival in big numbers–1 million + chinook within 2 years of breaching.

    The US Army Corps of Engineers found in its 2002 EIS, Alt. 4, that removing the dams provided the best recovery option for salmon. Instead, it choose to spend billions of federal taxpayer and BPA ratepayer money in failed salmon “improvements” (longer, elaborate smolt bypasses, etc).

    Inslee, Cantwell and Murray have all served in state/federal offices throughout these past 2 decades during these LSRDs reviews. They’ve refused to take any meaningful action to recover our wild salmon and Southern Resident Orcas by supporting breaching these high cost, low value dams. They will own the functional extinction of our iconic orcas.

    Inslee might be able to distinguish himself as a presidential candidate by supporting LSRD breaching and saving the Southern Residents. Instead, he has shown himself to be a typical politician who cares about money, not science or the environment. The voters in E WA won’t support Inslee anyway, so why shouldn’t he do the right thing and tell USACE to breach now?

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