Ken Balcomb is THE research expert on Southern Resident Orca Population in the Salish Sea area. Ken has predicted two deaths by summer 2019 based on the state of J17 (female, 42 years-old) and J25 (male, 27 years-old). He says both individuals look skinny compared to recent years and J25 is exhibiting “peanut head”, which is a sign of malnutrition as the head is smaller than the rest of the body.
J17 is the grandmother of the calf that was born last summer (2018) and died a half an hour later. It’s mother carried her dead calf for 17 days making international news. Ken suggests J17 probably underwent significant stress watching her daughter grieve her newborn loss for so long. Coupled with lack of food (chinook salmon), the grieving could have made survival difficult for J17.
Orcas Population Could Drop Lower Than 74 Individuals
The Southern Resident Orca population has dwindled to 74 individuals and may lose two or more this year due to a lack of food. Chinook Salmon populations have also declined due to damns blocking rivers, which serve as reproductive habitats for the salmon populations.
Lack Of Proper Policies
Canadian and US governments refuse to make hydro companies remove damns that are not in use anymore to help save the salmon populations within the Salish Sea. Instead, the US government recently approved a bill that will allow the culling of 1000 sea lions as they say the pinnipeds are responsible for the decline in salmon populations in the area.
Listen to the episode to get the full details and find out how the lack of food is changing the Orca population’s behaviour.
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