We are devastated by the loss of J50. Not only does this bring the population closer to extinction, but we have also lost future generations with her death. Despite the emergency response to feed her and provide her with medicine, these efforts were not enough. It is a heartbreaking reminder that we cannot save these whales on a case-by-case individual basis. What J50 needed, and what her family continues to need, is healthy and abundant chinook salmon, which these orcas depend upon for survival. If we are unable to restore the salmon that these orcas need, more whales will starve to death.

NOAA and Washington state were willing to mount an aggressive plan to save this one whale, and we need this type of leadership to save the entire population. Preventing the extinction of these unique whales will require bold leadership and tough choices. We call on Governor Inslee to take immediate action to save these orcas. He can start by counteracting salmon-killing dams, restoring rivers and habitat, reducing toxic stormwater runoff and decreasing noise disturbance from vessels and ships. Much needs to be done, and there is no time to waste to save these whales.
Robb Krehbiel, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife
SEATTLE,
13
September
2018
|
04:15 AM
America/New_York

For Immediate Release

Death of Third Southern Resident Orca

Southern resident orca J-pod lost another member today, four-year-old female J50, despite emergency human intervention with medical treatment and attempted hand feeding. J50’s failing health – along with not being sighted with her pod in searches by boats, planes and from shore today – has lead experts to declare her presumed dead (though NOAA and partners will continue searches for a not-yet-determined period of time). She was the first orca born during the 2015 “baby boom.” Since then, there have been no successful births in the population. She was only a few years from being able to reproduce, which the southern resident orcas desperately need. With J50’s death, there are only 74 southern resident orcas left in the wild.

This is the third death this summer for the southern residents. The vigil of new orca mother J23 carrying her dead calf for over a week garnered international attention. L92, a 23-year-old male, also died earlier this summer.

Robb Krehbiel, Northwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“We are devastated by the loss of J50. Not only does this bring the population closer to extinction, but we have also lost future generations with her death. Despite the emergency response to feed her and provide her with medicine, these efforts were not enough. It is a heartbreaking reminder that we cannot save these whales on a case-by-case individual basis. What J50 needed, and what her family continues to need, is healthy and abundant chinook salmon, which these orcas depend upon for survival. If we are unable to restore the salmon that these orcas need, more whales will starve to death.

“NOAA and Washington state were willing to mount an aggressive plan to save this one whale, and we need this type of leadership to save the entire population. Preventing the extinction of these unique whales will require bold leadership and tough choices. We call on Governor Inslee to take immediate action to save these orcas. He can start by counteracting salmon-killing dams, restoring rivers and habitat, reducing toxic stormwater runoff and decreasing noise disturbance from vessels and ships. Much needs to be done, and there is no time to waste to save these whales.”

Background:

  • NOAA Fisheries and native American tribes enacted an emergency response plan to save J50, including filling boats with live fish to feed her and injecting her with antibiotics.
  • Defenders of Wildlife has been working with a diverse coalition of partners to advance initiatives to save the southern residents from extinction. We have advocated for increased spill over Federal dams in the Columbia Basin to restore this critical source of winter food. We recently piloted our Orcas Love Raingardens program in Tacoma, which aims to improve water quality in Commencement Bay, an important estuary for Puyallup and White River Chinook salmon. We also advocated for accelerating efforts to remove sources of pollution from the Salish Sea, like derelict vessels and creosote, which can impact both orcas and salmon.
  • Only 74 individual southern resident orcas remain, the lowest population in over three decades. Their habitat spans the coasts of Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia.
  • In Washington state, Governor Inslee agreed that southern resident orcas are in a state of emergency and formed a taskforce to address this crisis.
  • On Nov 1, 2017, the Puget Sound Partnership released the most recent State of the Sound report. In it, the alarming decline of southern resident orcas was highlighted as a key indication that the health of the ecosystem remains in jeopardy.
  • In 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service declared that southern resident orcas are one of the species most at risk of extinction nationwide.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.