This weekend I've been in Port McNeill, learning more about the incredible mammals that live in our waters. There have been amazing examples of science and research, fantastic anecdotes and experiences shared, and then evidence of human impact of the creatures we share the oceans with.
Unfortunately, man's impact is obvious with one population in particular: Southern Resident Killer Whales. As was emphasised by the course in Port McNeill, in the past 60 years we've gone from branding Killer Whales monsters and quite literally pointing a machine gun at them off the Canada coast, to them now being heavily protected, and supported by protests regarding the captive animals still held by aquariums.
Unfortunately, it's possible that in the next 60 years, we may lose at least one population, the Southern Resident Killer Whales. As of a couple of days ago, their population dropped to just 75 individuals. So what can we do?
The recovery strategy for SRKWs has a number of suggestions. Lack of prey is one factor hitting these animals, so restricting chinook salmon fisheries would be beneficial. Acoustic disturbance is another factor, so limiting boat noise in their critical habitat will help. Also pollutants entering their habitat is another factor, so restricting chemical use, not allowing waste disposal into the oceans and limiting potential for things like oil spills will all help.
So what can you do personally?
1. Choose not to eat chinook salmon.
2. Respect the guidelines in boats and stay 200m+ from SRKWs.
3. Reduce your fuel consumption.
4. And here's the politically charged one... increased tanker traffic through their habitat is likely to have a further negative impact on this population. The pipeline will affect these animals.
Don't let the sun set on the 75.