After the presumed death of young orca J50, only 74 Southern Resident killer whales remain. But even that number is misleading since the number of reproductive orcas is far lower.
Senator Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) sent a letter to the Governor's Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force, outlining actions to prioritize recovery for the orcas. See full letter below
His action plan includes reducing the risk of oil spills, establishing a permit system for recreational whale watching and limit commercial vessels, doubling the distance boats can be in front or behind the whales from 200 yards to 400 yards, establishing no-go zones and slow-go zones around San Juan Island, increasing funds for hatcheries and fish habitat, and considering removal of dams like the ones on the lower Snake River.
Ranker admits many of these issues facing whale recovery have been around for years with no action, but he believes this time it's different.
"What's different now is the same scientists have tears in their eyes. They are saying we have got to act. Enough with studying things. Enough with having more conversation. It is time to act. I believe what is different this time, and I have hope and faith that this is true, is that more people are awake," Ranker said.
After the presumed loss of young orca J50 last week, Ranker says, there's no time to wait. The Southern Resident killer whales now number just 74 with very few reproducing, and Ranker says extinction is not an option.
"We must all step up and be bold, and if we are not, then the public needs to take us to task and frankly rake us across the coals," Ranker said.
Listen to Sen. Ranker's full interview on the new Southern Resident killer whale podcast, "A-Pod Cast with Alison Morrow"