Orca Action Month: Clean Waters, Healthy Futures


June is Orca Action Month, an opportunity to bring together researchers, advocates, and orca enthusiasts to raise awareness of the threats facing orcas and inspire community action to protect the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population. Read on to learn more about this year’s theme:

The Salish Sea — encompassing the waters of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca — supports an incredible diversity of life. From microscopic plants and animals to giant whales, this inland segment of the Pacific Ocean is truly unique.

Unfortunately, the rapid expansion of human development throughout the region has taken a heavy toll on the Salish Sea ecosystem in a number of ways, including the introduction of toxic chemicals. These toxic pollutants come from sources such as industry, agriculture, and untreated wastewater. But the single greatest source of toxic contaminants in the Salish Sea is from stormwater runoff. When rain falls on roadways and urban areas, pollutants such as oil, gasoline, tire dust, trace metals, and other debris are washed into streams and rivers that lead to the sea, or flow through storm drains that empty directly into the sea.

These toxics have numerous impacts on the marine life of the Salish Sea, and one of the region’s most beloved inhabitants, the endangered Southern Resident killer whales, may be affected the most. As a top predator, Southern Resident killer whales are exposed to toxic pollution directly from contaminated water as well as from their primary food source, Chinook salmon. Toxic contaminants in the water mean less prey for the Southern Residents and can directly affect their health, shortening their lifespan and lowering birth rates. That is why the theme for this year’s Orca Action Month — Clean Waters, Healthy Futures — should be considered a call to action.

This month, all around the Salish Sea, organizations and community members will be doing their part to celebrate and protect the Southern Resident killer whales and their habitat. Visit the Orca Month website to learn more and to see how you can get involved.

WDFW will also be sharing info about how we are working to understand and manage the impacts of toxic chemicals on the Salish Sea ecosystem, and what we can do to create cleaner waters and a healthier future for all.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.