Southern Resident Killer Whales May be “Delisted” from Endangered Species Act

Written by on November 28, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law

Emily Tripp

Southern Resident killer whale mother and calf.

Southern Resident killer whale mother and calf. Photo credit: NOAA.

Based on new information, Southern Resident killer whales–currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)–may be “delisted.”

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.

Southern Resident killer whales.

Southern Resident killer whales. Photo credit: NOAA.

To learn more:

Southern Resident killer whales.

Southern Resident killer whales. Photo credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2012 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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