Southern Resident Killer Whales Get Extra Protection

Written by on September 12, 2013 in Policy & Ocean Law, Whales & Dolphins

Daily Summary

Enforcement officers hit the water to protect Puget Sound’s Southern Resident killer whales from vessels

Whale watchers and orcas near the San Juan Islands in Washington State.

Whale watchers and orcas near the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Photo credit: NOAA.

Southern resident killer whales are a distinct population from other killer whale groups in the Pacific Ocean. Southern residents eat salmon and spend time in Puget Sound. There population has always been small (currently there are 82 individuals) and they were placed on the Endangered Species List in 2005. In 2011 NOAA put new regulations in place that required boaters to remain at least 200 yards away from the whales. Now, NOAA has provided $925,000 to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to hire an enforcement officer to ensure that the whales are not in danger from boats.

Singing bowhead whales baffle scientists
Researchers have been studying whale communication for years but we still know surprisingly little about it. Now, a research team is hoping to solve the mystery by studying bowhead whales. Researchers have recorded 66 different songs from a population of bowhead whales estimated to be only in the tens. Using two underwater microphones, the team recorded whale songs for an entire year and found that the songs changed with the seasons, although they don’t yet know why.

Worried You Might be Eating Dolphin? There’s a Test For That
In an effort to end whale and dolphin poaching, police and other officials in Taiwan are being trained to use a litmus-paper test that can identify whale and dolphin meat within ten minutes. This process is much faster than using DNA to test meat samples, which typically takes five days. The litmus test will be used at restaurants and markets if there is suspicion of poached dolphin or whale meat.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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