Did you know that June is Orca Month? For more than 15 years, people around the Pacific Northwest have celebrated, taken action, and raised awareness around orcas in our region during the month of June.
This Orca Month, we are celebrating the on-going work to recover our endangered Southern Resident Orcas by displaying the banner created at our Orca Recovery Day event last October. The banner will be on display at our offices in Puyallup from May 22-July 1, 2023.
This banner was painted by over 50 participants at an event at the Tacoma DeMolay Sandspit Nature Preserve on Fox Island, WA in October 2022. Participants included several families from the Curious by Nature outdoor preschool in Gig Harbor, WA, members of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, staff and volunteers from Pierce Conservation District, and Fox Island community members. Participants at this event also worked on maintenance on a riparian planting project installed to improve forage fish habitat on the beach at the preserve. Forage fish are an important food source for salmon, including Chinook salmon, the preferred prey of the endangered Southern Resident Orcas who are the subject of Orca Recovery Day.
History of Orca Recovery Day
In 2018, the world watched as Tahlequah, a Southern Resident Killer Whale, carried her dead calf for 17 days, traveling almost 1,000 miles off the Pacific Northwest coast before letting go. Tahlequah isn’t the first grieving orca mother- unfortunately, hers was one of many calf deaths across the past two decades. According to the Center for Whale Research, approximately 75 percent of newborns in the Southern Resident killer whale population have not survived.
In response to Tahlequah’s image of grief and the increasing need to help our orcas, Orca Recovery Day was created Washington conservation districts, an intentional day of action to restore habitat, reduce stormwater pollution, and educate the public about things they can do every day to help one of the most iconic species of the Pacific Northwest.
Because when it comes to the fight for our orcas, just like this collaborative banner, we all have something to bring to the table.
There is still so much work to do, but we want to take a moment to celebrate the people who work day after day and year after year on recovering these iconic orcas and the ecosystems they depend on. Recovered salmon runs and a healthy Puget Sound not only supports orcas but creates a better ecosystem for us all.