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State launches website tracking Southern Resident Killer Whale recovery

The website tracks how the state is doing in implementing 49 recommendations centered around bolstering the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Editor's note: The above video on a new calf in the Southern Resident Killer Whale K pod originally aired May 3, 2022.

Washington's Salmon Recovery Office has launched a new website tracking recovery efforts for the Southern Resident Killer Whale population. 

Currently, there are 74 Southern Resident Killer Whales spread out across three pods, which is the lowest number in more than 30 years, according to the state.

The new website tracks the state's progress in implementing 49 recommendations put forth by the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force in 2020, to achieve a goal of bolstering the orca population to 86 whales by 2030 and 110 whales by 2050.

To achieve that, the task force issued 49 recommendations surrounding increasing the orca's food supply, decreasing disturbance by boats, reducing pollution and addressing the impacts of climate change and human population growth.  

Currently, 34 recommendations put forward by the task force are underway, six are complete, six are pending, two are inactive and one is listed as "Needs Improvement."

The task force also set out short-term goals for recovering, including consistently well-nourished whales, more live births and the survival of several thriving young orcas. 

To no longer be considered in danger of extinction, the Southern Resident Killer Whale population must reach a 2.3% a year growth rate sustained for 28 years. The current growth rate is just 1%. 

In recent months, the J and K pods have each welcomed new orca calves. A video posted on YouTube in early May shows what appears to be a "very young calf" near K20 off the coast of Pacific City, Ore. The calf would be the first viable baby born into the K pod since 2011 when K44 was born. 

The J pod was spotted with a new calf in early March, which was the first new addition to that pod since September of 2020.

    

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