Apr 6, 2023 - News

$2.4 million in grants seek to help endangered orcas

Illustration of a killer whale balancing a life preserver on its nose.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

More than $2.4 million in grants and matching funds will go toward efforts to boost the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population in the coastal waters of Washington.

Driving the news: The grants, awarded through the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program and announced this week, will go toward a number of protections, including increasing the availability of Chinook salmon and reducing sound and vessel disturbances.

  • The grants will also establish a platform for the state to work with tribes and other organizations to source specific kinds of trees needed to restore complex instream salmon habitat that's been lost to deforestation.

Why it matters: While many other whale species are thriving in the Seattle region's seas, the Southern Residents are struggling to survive against multiple threats. On the endangered species list, there are currently only 73 of the animals.

Zoom in: More than 50 years after the orca known variously as Tokitae, Toki or Lolita was captured for public display, there are plans to return her from the Miami Seaquarium to the Pacific Northwest.


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