It is well known that the three main threats to orcas are lack of food, pollution, and boat traffic. In addition, aquarium captures performed in the 1960s and 70s wiped out a generation of young females and males, a loss to the species that has taken decades to recover from.
Why has it taken so long for governments to take effective actions to protect orcas? Since the early 1990s, the Vancouver based ecology/animal rights organization Lifeforce has been fighting on the cetaceans’ behalf. The four most important changes needed to save orcas are as follows:
- Moratoriums on fishing, to preserve the delicate web of life upon which orcas depend;
- Stopping field experiments such as “dart” tracking and skin biopsies, which in polluted waters can lead to infections and death (Orca L95 died from an infected tagging injury in March 2016, and others have gone missing);
- Increasing minimum legal boat distances, and educating commercial and pleasure boaters;
- Ending all cetacean captivity for entertainment or experiments through a worldwide ban.
The J Pod and the lone orca L87 were sighted in the waters between Comox and Campbell River, British Columbia on October 3, 4 and 8. It was great to see them spending a lot of time foraging, because their food sources have been severely depleted.
J pod is part of the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population. The J, K, and L family pods number only 76 individuals total. They live in both B.C. and U.S. waters. In Washington state we have lobbied for greater boat distances of up to 400 meters. We are urging the Canadian Government to increase its meager 100 meter minimum to help protect them. Orcas need equal legal protection in both Canada and the US.
Lifeforce is also asking the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to intervene and stop all orca experiments that involve satellite “tagging” and skin biopsies. As stated, both of these barbaric methods can cause infections and deaths. For the sake of all orcas there should be another level of protection.
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