In February, 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service singled out the Southern Resident Killer Whales as one of the eight species most at risk of extinction in their “Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive” report to congress. The Southern Resident population is threatened primarily by lack of food due to declining chinook salmon runs; toxic pollution and other contaminants; climate change; noise and disturbance. The whale protection zone Orca Relief Citizens’ Alliance is advocating for would give the population more quiet time for hunting, communications, and rest.

Recent Major Press

Killer Whale Patrols Begin in San Juans. NOAA has begun patrolling the Salish Sea for the summer months in order to enforce Federal distance restrictions that are in place to protect SRKWs from boat noise and disturbance. The patrols also provide opportunities to educate boaters about regulations. June 30, 2016

Noise from Shipping Vessels. A recently published study based on three years’ worth of hydrophone data from Haro Strait has determined that the noise emitted by shipping vessels falls in the same high frequency range as that used by Orca to communicate. The presence of this background noise has the potential to disrupt orca communication and interfere with their ability to hunt and reproduce.    February 2, 2016

New Monitoring of Shipping Noise. Researchers from the Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program have launched a listening station in the Strait of Georgia to monitor underwater noise from shipping vessels. This research will provide information about different kinds of noise produced by different vessels, and the impact of this noise of marine mammals. September 15, 2015

Key Documents

Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap to reduce harmful ocean noise. The plan includes more research into the effects of noise on ocean ecosystems, as well as outreach to federal, military, and private groups that contribute to ocean noise. The Administration has already begun using quieter vessels in an effort to reduce their own noise disturbance. The Roadmap is an early draft, and stands as part of a ten year plan to reduce the harmful effects of sound pollution in the oceans. June 3, 2016.