Seven Killer Whales Missing

Orca courtesy of Adactio [flickr]

A number of killer whales are missing, and presumed dead, from the Puget Sound orca pods, according to the Seattle P-I. (#) All three pods (J, K, and L) were affected, though the L pod lost four. The oldest orca that is missing/dead is Lummi, around 98 years old, who disappeared in spring, and was covered in an earlier Metblogs post. The youngest was new calf L-111, too young to have a name, who likely died within a week of birth.

The orca population is down to 83, with only a dozen or so reproductive females, according to the P-I (#). Two of the missing/dead whales were females in their prime, which concerns scientists. One older orca female, “Ankh”, showed signs of starvation- a lack of blubber behind her head, a phenomena referred to as ‘peanut head.’ Scientists at the Center for Whale Research believe the poor Chinook salmon population is partly to blame, but are doing research to determine if there are other factors.

The Whale Museum has a comprehensive list of ways to help the southern resident orcas, including things like supporting organic farming, buying no-phosphate cleaning products, or volunteering with a stream restoration program, or the San Juan Bottomfish Recovery Program.

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