The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) received a petition from the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation to remove the protection for the killer whales and is now conducting an ESA status review.
NOAA will seek public input and gather all possible information before deciding if this specific population should be removed from the list of endangered species. NOAA has until August 2013 (one year after the petition was filed) to make a decision.
Southern Resident killer whales spend most of their time in and around the Puget Sound and spend the winters in the open ocean. They gained protection under the ESA in 2005 when there were only 89 individuals left.
According to scientists, today there are only 86 individuals in this particular population, but the petition states that they are actually a part of a much larger group. If this proves to be true, the Southern Residents are not in danger of extinction.
To learn more:
- Check out the Q&A on decision to conduct a review on Southern Resident killer whales
- Read the full petition to “delist the Southern Resident killer whale distinct population segment“
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.