There are only 74 southern resident orcas left in Puget Sound. This problem is so serious, researchers believe if serious action isn’t taken in the next 15 years, our population of orcas will go extinct. The simple fact is that orcas are running out of food. Chinook salmon make up 80% of our orcas’ diets, but salmon populations are rapidly shrinking because their path from spawning rivers to the Puget Sound is blocked by multiple dams. In total, the Lower Snake River dams obstruct 140 miles of prime salmon migration waterways, and salmon populations have declined by 90 percent since they were built. All Snake River salmon runs are now listed as endangered, including the Chinook salmon that orcas depend on.
The most sustainable, cost effective, and scientifically credible solution to recovering this culturally and ecologically important species is to take action to breach the four dams on the lower Snake River. This would substantially increase spawning habitat for Snake River Chinook and greatly increase the availability of a critical food source for the endangered Southern resident orcas. According to scientists, no other action has the potential to increase the orca population to a safe level and uphold the treaties signed with the indigenous nations that rely on healthy salmon fisheries.
That’s why we’re fighting alongside a coalition of tribal nations, scientists, and activists to encourage our legislators to take the steps needed to save our orcas.