A population of resident type orcas – whose feeding strategy is remarkably parallel to that of the Southern Resident orcas – are disappearing from their home range in the Ross Sea. Scientists know that the whales are decreasing in number, the only question that remains is whether the orcas have moved on or if they are dying of hunger.
That population of orcas prefers to eat toothfish (dubbed “sea bass” to make them sound more palatable – related to the Chilean sea bass that has been all but wiped out by over-fishing) much like the Southern Resident orcas of the Salish Sea prefer Chinook salmon. In their recently published article, An apparent decrease in the prevalence of “Ross Sea killer whales” in the southern Ross Sea, (Ainley et al, Aquatic Mammals, Vol. 35 No. 3), the scientists relay a dire warning yet again: wise up before it’s too late.
Over and over the data is coming in from around the world – fisheries are collapsing, animals are starving, and we are next if we don’t get this figured out while there is still time. We can make some choices that will have a positive effect on fisheries everywhere (choosing only sustainable food is one easy way to make a difference), but we have a chance to make a huge difference to the salmon populations of the Pacific northwest.
I know that we have been hammering on the importance of restoring salmon, and it is because time is running out and we have to do something. I urge each and everyone of you to think of what you can do to help fix the salmon situation, then do it. Don’t eat farmed salmon. Help restore habitat. Figure out how to compensate our fisherpersons for lost revenue if they choose to let more fish slip past their nets.
The single most powerful change? Pressure the government to remove some unneeded dams and let the salmon back up the rivers.