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Thu Apr 25, 2019, 07:45 AM

A pod of orcas is starving to death. A tribe has a radical plan to feed them

The Lummi Nation is dropping live salmon into the sea in a last-ditch rescue effort: ‘We don’t have much time’

by Levi Pulkkinen in San Juan Island

Bobbing on the gray-green waters west of Washington state’s San Juan Island, Sle-lh’x elten Jeremiah Julius lifted a Chinook salmon from a 200-gallon blue plastic fish box. He carried the gulping fish to the boat’s rail and slid it into the sea, where it lingered a moment, then disappeared in a silver flash.

It was a quietly radical act.

This sea once teemed with the giant salmon, which in turn sustained thriving pods of orca. Today wild Chinook fisheries are in decline, and the orcas are starving. Julius is the chairman of the Lummi Nation, a tribe pushing an unorthodox policy. They are feeding salmon to the wild whales.

Numbering close to 100 two decades ago, the population of southern resident orca has dropped to just 75 as a result of pollution in their environment, ship noise that drowns out their songs and hinders their hunting, and, most crucially, a paucity of wild Chinook. Older whales have been seen wasting away, miscarriages are on the rise, and infant orca born alive are not surviving to adulthood. Last year a mother whale, Tahlequah, carried her dead calf for two and a half weeks in a scene that sparked an international outcry.

The Lummi Nation has long shared a coast and culture with the whales, an orca species found only in the waters off Seattle and Vancouver known as the Salish Sea. The tribe’s members once lived on the shores of the San Juans, now dotted with quaint tourist towns, million-dollar vacation homes and resorts, and they see the whales as their relatives.


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Reply A pod of orcas is starving to death. A tribe has a radical plan to feed them (Original post)
turbinetree Apr 2019 OP
Duppers Apr 2019 #1
maxsolomon Apr 2019 #2

Response to turbinetree (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 03:49 PM

1. "Sometimes there are no words"

This breaks my heart. A moratorium should be called on fishing for wild Chinook salmon in the wide area.

While I know it's not as healthy, I eat farmed salmon because I know we're wiping out the wild salmon populations. And besides, the farmed salmon better fits my budget at half the price. And did you know that farm-raised salmon are most often cultivated more omega-3 fatty acids.

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Response to Duppers (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 25, 2019, 04:00 PM

2. a moratorium would need to cover alaska.

the problem with the salish sea/Puget sound is vast:

1. noise from shipping lanes (Canada has already mandated slower speeds from cargo ships in the sound).

2. recreational boating and commercial whale watching harassing the pods.

3. decline in ALL species of salmon due to dams and commercial over-fishing outside the salish sea.

orca the globally-distributed species aren't in trouble, just these resident pods.

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