Cetacean Society International
Whales Alive! - Vol. XII No. 1 - January 2003
Puget Sound Orcas
A coalition of environmental groups in mid-December filed suit to force the government to put the Puget Sound's killer whales on the endangered species list. NMFS in June had concluded that, while these orcas are genetically distinct and could vanish within a century, they do not constitute a "significant population segment", are not eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act, and so listed them only as a "depleted species". Before the captivity scandal in the 1960's there were about 120 orcas. There were only 78 in 2000. These orcas suffer from a combination of factors, including toxins, ship traffic, noise, and fewer fish to eat. The good news is that there were three births last year, prompted by larger salmon runs, increasing the population to 82.