Loss of newborn orca devastating to southern resident population

Georgia Strait Alliance responds to news of likely orca death

October 2014

VANCOUVER – With the news this week that 7 week old newborn southern resident orca L120 has not been seen with its mother in many days and is presumed dead, the reality of the stresses on orca populations and the increasing challenges to their survival have been further highlighted.

“The first year of an orca’s life is the most challenging, with many passing away during this period,” says Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director of Georgia Strait Alliance.  “With increasing threats from disturbance, pollution and the availability of the salmon that feed them – and little action occurring to mitigate those threats – the pressure on orcas to make it through this first vulnerable year continues to grow.”

In March of this year, the federal government released their draft orca action plan which clearly showed that the commitment to make real changes to address the major threats to orcas was not forthcoming.  As stated in our formal joint submission submitted this spring: “Unfortunately, while the Draft Action Plan identifies some important research projects, it generally fails to identify concrete actions or measures that will ensure any specific outcomes on the ground.”

Today, there are 78 orcas in the southern resident population, two fewer than when the population was declared endangered in Canada in 2001.

“As this vulnerable population continues to try and maintain their numbers, without immediate action we will continue to see them struggle”, says Wilhelmson.  “We must act now or this storyline will be one we see over and over again.”

Formed in 1990, Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens’ group working to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities, the place where 75% of British Columbians live, work and play.

For more information please contact:
Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director
Georgia Strait Alliance
(604) 862-7579