As she carried her dead calf day after day, for more than 1,000 miles Tahlequah the mother orca opened the eyes and hearts of people around the world last summer. Her journey raised uncomfortable questions about why the calf died and why her extended family is struggling to survive.
The Seattle Times will continue to explore and expose the plight of the southern resident killer whales, among the most-enduring symbols of our region. We’ll examine the role we have played in their decline, what we can do about it and why it matters.
Published November 11, 2018 | Read story »
Published December 13, 2018 | Read story »
Published February 24, 2019 | Read story »
Published May 19, 2019 | Read story »
CHASING A MEMORY: In California, orcas and salmon have become so scarce people have forgotten what once was. Will the Northwest be next?
Published September 29, 2019 | Read story »
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Namu, displayed on Seattle's waterfront, sparked worldwide interest in killer whales. As for the pop-music single? "I know I didn’t make any money, but it was fun," said the studio owner. He said he got the idea after he heard a recording of the orca singing.
Canada has adopted a suite of measures intended to improve orcas' access to food by reducing commercial and recreational fishing for chinook salmon and quieting vessel noise. Some of the policies go further than laws just adopted by Washington state.
The legislation grew out of recommendations made by Inslee's orca recovery task force last November. Researchers say the orcas are on the brink of extinction due mostly to a lack of their preferred prey, chinook salmon.
Folks whose jobs depend on four federal dams in southeastern Washington say that pleas to breach the dams are forcing them to speak out in defense of their economy and their way of life.
Researchers suspect that huge runs of pink salmon, which have boomed under conservation efforts and changes in ocean conditions in the past two decades, might interfere with southern resident orcas' ability to hunt their preferred prey, Chinook salmon.
After 20 years and $1 billion spent on Washington state salmon programs, fish still declining, new report says
The 2018 State of the Salmon report by the Governor's Salmon Recovery Office paints a sobering picture.
Seattle Times graphic artist Emily M. Eng takes you through the process of making a 3-D model of an orca so we could better explain the animals in an ongoing series about them.
Where do they live? What do they eat? What can we do to help them? Seattle Times environment reporter Lynda Mapes answers common questions about the region's orcas.
The orca Tahlequah, also known as J35, has now carried her dead calf for a ninth day. Experts say grief is driving her, but others urge caution about projecting human emotions on animals.
Orca champions have joined forces with dam busters, bringing new energy to an old fight to take down the Lower Snake River dams.
The Lummi Nation wants to retire Lolita to a sea pen in the Sound, where she would be fed chinook and be in her home waters again, and in acoustic contact with her family.
The southern resident killer whales have struggled to reproduce over the past several years, and lost three members just this year.
The EPA had issued draft permits to the state Ecology department for review, but yanked them last week -- effectively stopping the state's effort to regulate water quality at the federal dams.
Tahlequah, the mother orca whale whose plight captivated people around the world, is no longer carrying her calf.
Southern-resident orcas depend on a wide diversity of chinook-salmon runs throughout a big geographic range, according to the analysis by NOAA Fisheries and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Attendees criticized NOAA for coordinating the now-canceled rescue effort of the orca J50 with SeaWorld, the entertainment park that had for decades profited from capturing the animals for use in its aquariums.
The Canadian government has recently moved to nationalize the expansion of the controversial pipeline. But the ruling Thursday by the Federal Court of Appeals is requiring the government to assess the project's possible impact on southern-resident killer whales, which use transboundary waters of the Salish Sea.
The lawsuit alleges that the government had agreed in February 2015 that expanding the protection zone for the orcas was "warranted," but has since failed to take action, putting the orcas at greater risk of extinction.
Scientists say saving the southern resident orcas is going to take a variety of solutions, from quieting vessel noise to fishing cutbacks, to restraint on development in what habitat remains for salmon and even breaching the lower Snake River dams.
Researchers will next determine whether to proceed with feeding, depending on conditions and location of the whales.
An emergency plan aims to medicate and feed J50, a struggling young southern resident killer whale scientists fear may not have long to live.
We asked you how this story was affecting you and what questions you had about orcas in the Puget Sound. More than 1,000 readers responded, flooding our comment sections and inboxes with tales of how Tahlequah's story has impacted them.