Tuesday February 20, 2024

Oregon Coast Beach Connection

This week, Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission voted unanimously to put Southern Resident orcas into the endangered list under Oregon’s Endangered Species Act (OESA), creating a step in the right direction for perhaps all regional orcas off the Oregon coast and Washington coast. 

Of all the killer whales we see off the Oregon coast, this set is down to a very few 76 whales spread over a mere three pods. The species is in serious danger, compounded by reproductive issues, inbreeding (because of their small numbers) and the scarcity of Chinook salmon, their preferred prey. Movement and sound from vessels is also pushing them around and increasing levels of pollutants are hindering their survival.

Making their home much of the year up in the Seattle area, Oregon’s coastline is a major route for them, although often far offshore. While they have already been listed under federal law as endangered since 2005, this new declaration brings more resources into the struggle to assist them. Oregon waters were designated as a critical habit in 2021, but the OESA guidelines create more tools and methods for action on a local and regional level through Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

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