Chinook salmon decimated, southern resident orcas are residents no more

Q13 Fox News

Summer is synonymous with seeing whales in the Pacific Northwest, but visits from the locally-beloved southern resident orcas are becoming few and far between. Experts say the dramatic absence is likely directly tied to tanking salmon returns in the Fraser River, which were historically abundant.

“Historically, this time of year we’d be seeing Js, Ks and Ls [pods] almost every day,” said Jeff Friedman, the U.S. president of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

This spring and summer, the visits from the southern resident orca pods have been scarce. Friedman said J pod has not been seen in Washington’s inland waters since early April, and portions of K and L pods have made only quick trips inland in recent weeks.

“They were known as residents because people expected to see them from about mid-May through October here, but now that’s just not the case,” said Deborah Giles, an orca research scientist for University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology.

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