Presentation Abstract

The endangered Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) (SRKW) population remains the only killer whale population listed under the United States Endangered Species Act in U.S. waters since it was listed in 2005. In the 1960s and 70s, the population was reduced by approximately 40% following intensive efforts to capture individuals for a growing marine park captivity industry. The first Northwest killer whale census (1974) found just 70 remaining individuals in the SRKW community. This population has struggled to return to pre-capture numbers, and in the face of new threats including prey depletion, toxic contamination, and vessel effects, fewer than 80 individuals remain today. Over the last 40 years, this unique killer whale community has transitioned from targets of the captivity industry to one of the most iconic wild species of the Pacific Northwest, but is now desperately in need of meaningful and effective conservation efforts. As threats to this population have changed, environmental and advocacy groups have revised their strategies from a focus on separate issues to a recognition of the need for an ecosystem approach to ensure the long-term recovery and survival of these iconic killer whales. Recent research indicates that ecosystem-based efforts drive quicker recovery of ecosystems and endangered species. This innovative method has led to new partnerships with groups from disparate backgrounds working together to address multiple issues in the Pacific Northwest to recover the SRKWs and their habitat - in particular addressing the threat of prey depletion for the SRKWs by working for salmon restoration. By focusing on the role of whales in the ecosystem and their needs, we can increase conservation efforts for the SRKWs and demonstrate the potential of ecosystem-based management.

Session Title

Posters: Ecosystem Management, Policy, & Protection

Keywords

Southern Resident killer whales, Chinook salmon, ecosystem, recovery, captivity, orca

Conference Track

SSE18: Posters

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE18-53

Start Date

5-4-2018 11:30 AM

End Date

5-4-2018 1:30 PM

Type of Presentation

Poster

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

Share

COinS
 
Apr 5th, 11:30 AM Apr 5th, 1:30 PM

Southern Resident killer whales: from captivity to conservation

The endangered Southern Resident killer whale (Orcinus orca) (SRKW) population remains the only killer whale population listed under the United States Endangered Species Act in U.S. waters since it was listed in 2005. In the 1960s and 70s, the population was reduced by approximately 40% following intensive efforts to capture individuals for a growing marine park captivity industry. The first Northwest killer whale census (1974) found just 70 remaining individuals in the SRKW community. This population has struggled to return to pre-capture numbers, and in the face of new threats including prey depletion, toxic contamination, and vessel effects, fewer than 80 individuals remain today. Over the last 40 years, this unique killer whale community has transitioned from targets of the captivity industry to one of the most iconic wild species of the Pacific Northwest, but is now desperately in need of meaningful and effective conservation efforts. As threats to this population have changed, environmental and advocacy groups have revised their strategies from a focus on separate issues to a recognition of the need for an ecosystem approach to ensure the long-term recovery and survival of these iconic killer whales. Recent research indicates that ecosystem-based efforts drive quicker recovery of ecosystems and endangered species. This innovative method has led to new partnerships with groups from disparate backgrounds working together to address multiple issues in the Pacific Northwest to recover the SRKWs and their habitat - in particular addressing the threat of prey depletion for the SRKWs by working for salmon restoration. By focusing on the role of whales in the ecosystem and their needs, we can increase conservation efforts for the SRKWs and demonstrate the potential of ecosystem-based management.