Southern Resident orcas are not only iconic symbols of our region but are also one of the most endangered marine mammal populations in the world. While we have made progress in the last year toward a safer, more protected home for Southern Resident orcas, we know our work is not done.
The orcas need clean and quiet waters, reduced disturbance, and most importantly, more of their primary food source – Chinook salmon – throughout their range, from the Salish Sea to California.
Together, we can make a difference for orcas when we make individual day-to-day choices that support a clean Salish Sea.
- Get involved in a local habitat restoration project- Organizations across the region from Conservation Districts, to Salmon Recovery Lead Entities, to Salmon Enhancement Groups, to state and local agencies to local non-profits like EarthCorps are working every day to restore salmon habitat. They could use the help of volunteers like you.
- Commit to using public transit more often to go places. Not only will you save money, as transportation is the second largest household expense, only behind housing, you can save time and be green. At least 14 million pounds of toxic chemicals flow into Puget Sound every year including motor oil spill, drop, or runoff from paved-over areas polluting salmon and orcas.
- Participate in Bike Everywhere Month during the month of May. Bike Everywhere Month is the time to support, encourage, and celebrate all things bicycling. Biking is good for fitness, good for your pocket book, fun, family oriented, and good for the environment and orcas. Click here.
- Participate in Ride Transit Month during June! Riding transit reduces toxic stormwater runoff that is the number one source of pollution into Puget Sound. Be an Orca Hero and ride transit!
- Contact your congressional delegation urging them to support federal appropriation dollars for critical salmon habitat restoration needs in the Pacific Northwest. Southern resident orcas primary source of food is the threatened Chinook salmon. Without adequate food, orcas will starve. Click here for all congressional delegation contacts.
- Contact your city council members, mayor, county commissioners and ask them to be champions for the recovery of the Southern Resident orca population. Maybe ask them to declare June as Orca Action Month in their community.
- Dispose your unused medicines properly. Individually, we have a responsibility to dispose of unused medicines properly to protect human health and safety as well as the environment. Do not dump them into sewers (toilets and sinks) or garbage cans as they will find their way into our waterways toxifying all sorts of wildlife including forage fish, salmon and orcas. In the Salish Sea region, public health agencies in four counties (King, Snohomish, Kitsap, Pierce) now have secure medicine return programs with many more convenient drop box locations than even before. These comprehensive drug take-back programs will soon be expanding to three other counties (Clallam, Whatcom, Skagit), and eventually across the entire state. Help keep drugs out of orcas.Residents of King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish can find MED-Project drop boxes online at https://med-project.org/ or call 1-(844)-633-7765.If you live in another county, check for drop box locations at www.TakeBackYourMeds.org.
- Support salmon-safe farmers, businesses, and local food providers. The lack of salmon is a statewide issue, so wherever you live, please seek out local food opportunities that respect salmon.
- Plant a raingarden – We get roughly 40″ of rain every year in the Puget Sound region. All that rain hits our roofs, yards, and driveways and runs off into the streets. Along the way it picks up pollutants and toxic chemicals, ending up in local streams and ultimately Puget Sound, unfiltered. A Rain Garden can help capture some of that runoff, collect it, and filter it back into the ground before it has a chance to carry pollution to our local waterways. Learn more from 12,000 Raingardens.
- Reduce single-occupancy vehicle travel and fix that oil leak. Toxic road dust from tire wear has been implicated in killing Coho salmon in streams. Oil leaks from vehicle are a source of PAHs that cause problems in herring. Learn more at Don’t Drip and Drive.
- Switch to non-toxic personal care products as drugs have been implicated in juvenile salmonid survival. See this infographic for more information.
- Reduce your speed on the water (if you are a boat owner) to 5 knots when you are close to an orca. Recent studies have shown that faster boats are much noisier, thereby impacting orca’s ability to use echolocation to find food, communicate, and navigate.
- “Be Whale Wise” when you are on the water in a boat or kayak. Washington state now requires all vessels to be 300 yards from an orca on either side, and 400 yards away in front and behind the orca.
- Create shoreline friendly fish habitat if you are a shoreline property owner to support salmon that supports orcas. If we restore our shorelines, there will be more forage fish such as sand lance and smelt, to support more salmon for the Orcas. Puget Sound has 7,500 miles of shoreline, 2,500 of which has been degraded by development. Learn more here!