Tuesday, August 6th, marked one month since the southern resident orcas were last seen in their home waters in and around the San Juan Islands in Washington State. Three southern resident orcas are reported missing and presumed dead, says the Center for Whale Research. Ken Balcomb, founding director of the center, says the missing whales are J17, K25 and L84.
The ocras are usually present every day this time of year but have only shown up a handful of times before quickly leaving again to the coast. Due to the lack of chinook-salmon, southern resident orcas now rarely visit the main waters of their critical habitat, the Puget Sound, Georgia Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The whales have been on the outer coast nearly all summer. Human fisherman are too hurting as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed the chinook fishery in the San Juans for the month of August, due to low returns to Puget Sound. The warm water effects of climate change are the prime suspect for the declining numbers of Puget Sound Salmon and Southern Resident Orcas.