© Maris Sidenstecker II - Wild Orcas in British Columbia
Can These Orcas Be Saved?
The Southern Resident Killer Whales are the smallest resident community of orcas within the Puget Sound area. Their population used to be in the hundreds two decades ago, but it has shrunk to barely 80. They are starving to death.
Scientists say that the deaths are caused by a lack of food. Killer whales eat salmon and especially like the Chinook which is a large and fat fish, but the salmon population has declined.
What could fix this problem is the removal of four dams on the lower Snake River: the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite. These dams are owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Removal of these dams is being discussed. In May a judge dismissed a plan by the federal government for restoring salmon populations in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, saying it didn't provide enough protection for the fish. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon, Portland, Oregon, ordered the feds to draft a new salmon protection plan by 2018, and said that in order to protect the salmon, the new plan might include breaching, bypassing or removing one or more of the Snake River dams.
Ken Balcomb is the founder of Orca Survey (1976) and the study of Pacific Northwest Southern Resident Killer Whales (orcas). Balcomb says that J28, a female, died alongside her calf. Young orcas need proper resources to survive and grow. They nurse until they are usually a year old. Losing their mother when they are young dooms the calf since they need protection and a food source. "We know what we need to do -- feed them," Balcomb said at a news conference in Seattle.
Not everyone agrees that the dams should be removed as they provide low-cost hydroelectric power, and play an important role in the economy of the region. But biologists say that measures need to be taken to save the starving orcas.
Other dangers to the orcas and other living things are warming waters, habitat loss, ship and boat noise, pollution, naval sonar/war gaming and ocean acidification.
Paul Spong, PhD, advocates the removal of dams, stating that dismantling them would be a key first step. Dr. Spong is head of OrcaLab and studies the orcas in British Columbia with a network of hydrophones. This allows them to monitor the whales' movements year round, 24 hours a day, over an area of 50 square kilometers.
Souls of the Vermilion Sea
Souls of the Vermilion Sea
is a documentary series about the struggle to save the world's most endangered marine mammal, the vaquita. It was made by Wild Lens, makers of other prize-winning documentaries with a focus on wildlife conservation.
"Searching For the Vaquita" is the first short film in an ongoing series about this small species of porpoise, focusing on the Vaquita Survey Mission that
took place in the fall of 2015.
See what life was like on board the vaquita survey vessel, Ocean Starr, and hear about the struggle to save this species, from top vaquita experts as
well as from local fisherman.
The Gulf of California is also known as the Sea of Cortez, Sea of Cortés or Vermilion Sea. It is a body of water that separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland. It is bordered by the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sonora, and Sinaloa with a coastline of approximately 4,000 km (2,500 mi). Rivers which flow into the Gulf of California include the Colorado, Fuerte, Mayo, Sinaloa, Sonora, and the Yaqui. The gulf's surface area is about 160,000 km (62,000 sq mi).