76

Salish Sea Orca

North America

76

Orcinus orca

Endangered

The Salish Sea Orca population has fluctuated between 70 and 99 individuals since 1976. The reasons they're classified as endangered are:

  • Decreased prey availability
  • Pollution and contaminants
  • Effects from vessels traffic and vessel sound

The Salish Sea Orca (Southern Resident Killer Whale) is the largest member of the dolphin family. Its size, distinctive black and white markings, and tall dorsal fin make it easy to distinguish from other whales.

Usually the first glimpse of a Killer Whale will be its iconic 1 to 2 metre tall dorsal fin slicing through the water. Adult males may reach overall lengths of eight to nine metres, and weigh up to five tonnes; females are about 20% smaller. The known range of the Salish Sea Orca extends from southeastern Alaska to central California.

During the summer months these Orcas concentrate off the southern end of Vancouver Island and northern Washington State, and are frequently sighted in Haro Strait, Georgia Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Salish Sea Orca population has fluctuated between 70 and 99 individuals since 1976, and consisted of 76 members in 2017.

Because of their declining population size and small number they are currently facing imminent threats to their survival and recovery.