Group: Protect Orcas In West Coast Waters

Credit AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries Service, Candice EmmonsFILE - In this file photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and shot Oct. 29, 2013, orca whales from the J and K pods swim past a small research boat on Puget Sound in view of downtown Seattle.

Credit AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries Service, Candice Emmons
FILE – In this file photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and shot Oct. 29, 2013, orca whales from the J and K pods swim past a small research boat on Puget Sound in view of downtown Seattle.

Jan 16 2014

By The Associated Press

A conservation group is asking federal officials to protect endangered killer whales in the marine waters off the West Coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate critical habitat for orcas along the coast of Washington, Oregon and California.

The southern resident killer whales are frequently seen in Puget Sound during the summer, but little was known about their winter movements until recently.

Federal biologists have tracked the orcas as they traveled extensively along the coast, from Cape Flattery, Wash. to Point Reyes, Calif.

The group says those offshore areas should now be added as critical habitat. Such a designation would require federal officials to limit activities that harm the whales.

A message left with the federal agency was not immediately returned.

Orcas draw crowds in Washington

By The Oregonian The Oregonian
June 07, 2013

 

BREMERTON, Wash. — Eight killer whales that spent about three hours in inland Washington waters near Bremerton quickly drew crowds on nearby shorelines.

Marine mammal biologist Brad Hanson of the National Marine Fisheries Service heard about the orcas and headed over from Seattle in his research boat to check them out Thursday afternoon.

The Kitsap Sun reports that the whales were marine mammal-eating transient orcas, rather than members of three Southern Resident killer whale pods that eat salmon.

Hanson followed the whales into Dyes Inlet and obtained a sample of blubber from a female orca designated as T-65A. She was identifiable by a distinctive notch in the upper part of her dorsal fin. Hanson also was able to identify her three offspring but not the other four whales. The blubber test is used to check for toxic chemicals and to help with genetic fingerprinting.

He says researchers are now trying to learn more about the transient killer whales.

— The Associated Press