The purpose of the Whale Sighting Network and Education project is to increase awareness of the Southern Resident Community of orcas (J, K and L pods), and foster a stewardship ethic to motivate a diverse audience in taking action to protect and restore Northwest waters.The project also encourages shore-based whale watching and Be Whale Wise boating behavior, and provides valuable data for researchers, agencies and other organizations involved in helping this endangered community of orcas.
The Southern Resident orcas were listed as Endangered in November 2005 under the Endangered Species Act, yet we have only begun to learn about these whales' intelligence and social systems.
Major factors in the decline of their population include dwindling salmon runs, captures for marine theme parks in the 60s and 70s, toxic pollution, loss of habitat, military training exercises, and increasing vessel traffic and noise levels in the Salish Sea and throughout their critical habitat.
Through Orca Network's Whale Sighting Network, the public is engaged in collecting and reporting whale sightings, which provide data for researchers working on the Orca Recovery Plan for the Southern Resident orcas. Not only can the public take an active part in helping, in the process they are educated about this amazing species, and the uniqueness of this particular community of orcas - a fragile community of only 84 orcas, whose lives hang in the balance ~
Orcas are an icon of the Pacific Northwest, revered by all who have lived here. Native Americans have many stories about the sacred role the orcas play in their culture and history, and in today's society, orcas still play an important part in the culture and economy of the Pacific Northwest. This particular community of orcas has suffered a 20% decline in population, and if they don't survive, our grandchildren may never know the thrill of seeing an orca swim and breach in the Salish Sea.