SEATTLE — More than 100 organizations across the Pacific Northwest are participating in Orca Recovery Day 2020 by hosting dozens of events and a monthlong eco-challenge to improve the conditions for endangered southern resident orcas.
Despite the coronavirus, small and in-person volunteer events are being held across Washington state, British Columbia, Oregon and Northern California on Saturday.
Because the southern resident orca population has been on the decline, recovery efforts have been ongoing in providing clean waterways that support fish health, such as for the Chinook salmon, which is the orca’s primary source of food.
Just last month, the southern resident orca Tahlequah, who had gained worldwide attention after carrying her dead calf for 17 days, gave birth again to new calf J57.
“Heartbreaking. You felt for her. It was like visible grief,” said Linda Cowan of Auburn.
“Now to find out the mother has given birth and out here with this young one is extraordinary. Absolutely fantastic,” said Mike Graddon of Buckley.
A majority of orca pregnancies in recent years have not been successful for a variety of reasons.
A lack of access to Chinook salmon has been one environmental factor that has concerned marine biologists and has led to decades of work to return salmon runs to the region. The amount of noise in the region’s waterways is another concern. Orcas use echolocation to track salmon and communicate with one another.
And during the summer, boaters were seen steering too close to orcas, endangering them.
As for Orca Recovery Day 2020, those looking to improve orcas' chances of survival said, “One day isn’t going to fix this problem, but one day can unite us all in action, show what’s possible when we act, and inspire us all to keep making positive changes for our own health and for the health of our orcas.”
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