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Southern Resident Killer Whale Protection Workshop

Southern Resident Killer Whale Protection Workshop

San Juan County Council is exploring what local government and citizens can do to protect the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) from extinction.  On Friday, October 27, 2017, San Juan County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) held and afternoon workshop followed by an Open House at Brickworks community hall in Friday Harbor.  101 people were in attendance. There were two objectives of this workshop: 

  1. Identify and prioritize individual and local community actions that will help protect SRKW from three known threats: pollution; boating/vessels; and limited food resources.
  2. Elicit personal commitments to act by workshop participants on priority actions.

Download the Final Report

In preparation for the workshop, the MRC conducted a survey of registered attendees and to the local public through a posting and promotion using local zip codes on Facebook social media site from October 16 - 31, 2017. Here is the result of the Survey.

Survey Results


To learn more visit the Marine Stewardship Area website.

Thank you for your interest,
San Juan County Marine Resources Committee
San Juan County Environmental Resources Division of Public Works

Event Contact: San Juan County Marine Resources - (360) 370-7592

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.


The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, West Coast Region is the United States federal government agency that oversees protection of the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW). In their 10 years of Research and Conservation Report on SRKW they characterized three MAJOR THREATS TO RECOVERY:  Prey AvailabilityPollution and Contaminants, and  Vessels and Noise. A recently identified fourth stressor may be pathogens, according to the report: Respiratory Microbiome of Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales and Microbiota of Surrounding Sea Surface Microlayer in the Eastern North Pacific

Evaluating anthropogenic threats to endangered killer whales to inform effective recovery plans

Population growth is limited by nutritional impacts on pregnancy success in endangered Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca)


Vessels and Noise

Port of Vancouver (Canada) ECHO Program  "Between August 7 and October 6, 2017, all vessels transiting Haro Strait are requested to reduce their speed to 11 knots (speed through the water) between Discovery Island at the southern end, and Henry Island at the northern end."

How to participate

Commercial AIS equipped vessels

Please transit the trial zone at 11kn (speed through water). AIS equipped vessels will be monitored and measured automatically. Please note: Slowing down to 11 knots through Haro Strait could introduce delays of between 30 minutes to an hour between Boundary Pass and Brotchie Point, depending on vessel type and tidal currents. Inbound vessels should adjust their planned arrival time at Brotchie Point to minimize potential impacts to their scheduled berth or anchorage arrival times.

Recreational, whale watch and other commercial vessels

Please transit the trial zone at 11kn (speed through water). Boaters are encouraged to respect this speed limit and be aware of commercial vessels in the area.

Prey Availability

Population growth is limited by nutritional impacts on pregnancy success in endangered Southern Resident killer whales (Orcinus orca)

Samuel K. Wasser Jessica I. Lundin, Katherine Ayres, Elizabeth Seely, Deborah Giles, Kenneth Balcomb, Jennifer Hempelmann, Kim Parsons, Rebecca Booth


The Southern Resident killer whale population (Orcinus orca) was listed as endangered in 2005 and shows little sign of recovery. These fish eating whales feed primarily on endangered Chinook salmon. Population growth is constrained by low offspring production for the number of reproductive females in the population. Lack of prey, increased toxins and vessel disturbance have been listed as potential causes of the whale’s decline, but partitioning these pressures has been difficult. We validated and applied temporal measures of progesterone and testosterone metabolites to assess occurrence, stage and health of pregnancy from genotyped killer whale feces collected using detection dogs. Thyroid and glucocorticoid hormone metabolites were measured from these same samples to assess physiological stress. These methods enabled us to assess pregnancy occurrence and failure as well as how pregnancy success was temporally impacted by nutritional and other stressors, between 2008 and 2014. Up to 69% of all detectable pregnancies were unsuccessful; of these, up to 33% failed relatively late in gestation or immediately post-partum, when the cost is especially high. Low availability of Chinook salmon appears to be an important stressor among these fish-eating whales as well as a significant cause of late pregnancy failure, including unobserved perinatal loss. However, release of lipophilic toxicants during fat metabolism in the nutritionally deprived animals may also provide a contributor to these cumulative effects. Results point to the importance of promoting Chinook salmon recovery to enhance population growth of Southern Resident killer whales. The physiological measures used in this study can also be used to monitor the success of actions aimed at promoting adaptive management of this important apex predator to the Pacific Northwest.

Pollution and Contamination

The Ocean Pollution Research Program

Food Web Bioaccumulation Model for Resident Killer Whales from the Northeastern Pacific Ocean as a Tool for the Derivation of PBDE-Sediment Quality Guidelines.

Southern Resident Killer Whale Protection Workshop