Photo: Courtesy of Dave Ellifrit, Center for Whale Research

The magnificent orca has been the beloved icon of the Pacific Northwest and Puget Sound ever since man has shared these waters with them. But a recent and significant decline in the Southern Resident orca population has caused deep concern among researchers, government agencies, and citizens throughout the northwest. Between 1995 and 2001, the Southern Resident orca population declined by 20%, and in November 2005 was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Governor Inslee's declaration of June as Washington Orca Awareness Month describes some of the reasons for making an entire month the occasion for showing our appreciation for our orca neighbors and helping instill a sense of stewardship to protect them and their fragile habitats, which we also depend on. The Southern Resident orcas are endangered, officially under the ESA and in reality. The harm that is done to them are indirect consequences of a wide variety of activities including declining salmon runs, toxic pollution and all manner of shipping and boat traffic. Orca Month is meant to aid in their recovery by educating the public and taking action to improve conditions for the survival of the Southern Resident orcas.

Photo: Courtesy of Dave Ellifrit,
Center for Whale Research
We also are blessed to have this “urban” community of orcas in our midst, to know them as individuals and pods, and to watch them from our many miles of shoreline, ferries and boats. And, we have only begun to learn about this species’ intelligence and social capabilities. By restoring the whales' home and habitat we also help ensure our own health and survival, and by learning more about them we may gain some insights into how an intelligent mammal can live in harmony on this planet.

We need your help!

Aside from a membership with the Orca Network or financial contributions to Orca Network, the Center for Whale Research, The Whale Museum and Save Our Wild Salmon, you can help by:

  • Attending and supporting Orca Month events
  • Volunteering at events or joining our Orca Month planning committee
  • Getting your employer and co-workers involved in supporting Orca Month
  • For educators, add Orca Awareness Month educational materials to your curriculum
  • More ideas for action can be found here.
Thank you for visiting

Susan Berta, Orca Network
Howard Garrett, Orca Network
Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research

Orca Month ProclamationMake A Donation to Orca NetworkOrca Month Events