Watch: Southern Resident Orcas spotted near Vashon Island

Southern Resident Orcas spotted near Vashon Island

More sightings of Southern Resident Orcas in the Puget Sound on Thursday.

Air 4 took pictures of the orcas swimming, breaching and spyhopping off the western shore of Vashon Island. The orcas were moving north.

Earlier this week, the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force worked to finalize recommendations to save the endangered orcas. Their preliminary recommendations include a three-to-five year moritorium on whale watching tours and breaching dams on rivers with critical Chinook salmon runs. The Chinook is the only food the orcas eat.

“My hope is that this will be a package of recommendations to address all the threats and that we do take bold steps and implement change and address all the threats that are impacting the whales,” said Lynne Barre who is the recovery coordinator for Southern Resident Killer Whales at NOAA Fisheries.

Governor Jay Inslee called for the Orca Task Force earlier this year in response to the whales’ decline. Their plight impacted people all over the world after a female killer whale carried her dead baby for 17 days through the Salish Sea.

“It’s been really challenging, but I think it’s raised awareness about the issues that face these whales,” said Barre. “It’s brought more people to the table and that’s the kind of support we need to implement critical actions.”

The group has developed 36 recommendations that focus on three goals: increasing Chinook salmon, decreasing vessel disturbance and reducing expose to contaminates.

“If we don’t take bold steps, we aren’t going to get another chance,” said State Senator Kevin Ranker who is also part of the task force. “These whales are on their last leg.”

The final report will be delivered to Gov. Inslee on November 16.

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