The Salmon-Orca Catch 22


Martha Kongsgaard, ROSS Executive Committee Member and Chair of the Puget Sound Partnership, recently co-authored a guest opinion piece in the Seattle Times about Orca whales and salmon with Ken Balcomb, Executive Director of the Center for Whale Research, and David Troutt, the Director of the Nisqually Indian Tribe Natural Resources.

Salmon and orca are two of the strongest icons of the Pacific Northwest, yet salmon populations are dwindling and only 79 resident orcas current call the Puget Sound and the Salish Sea home. In their piece, the authors discuss the catch 22 of these two endangered species: the endangered salmon are the favored food for the endangered orca. As contradictory as it may seem, the best way to protect our resident orca whales is to ensure salmon populations large enough to serve as a food source for the orca and sustain their own species.

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project research program began in 2014 and is engaged in research targeted at answering a single question: “Why are salmon dying in the Salish Sea?” Answering this question will allow our region to recover these vital salmon populations and support improvements to our regional environmental health. Several ROSS partners are involved in this group of over 40 international organizations, including King County, Tulalip Tribes, Puget Sound Partnership, and the University of Washington.

With the approach taken by the Floodplains by Design partnership supporting the healthy of our local rivers and streams, the work of the Salish Sea and Marine Survival Project may steward the health of our regional and international watershed ecosystems.

Our salmon and orca are fortunate to have the support of these local initiatives!

Photo+Image Credit: (Top) Gabriel Campanario, Seattle Times  |  (Bottom) Salish Sea Marine Survival Project

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