The following is supplemental material for “Hostile Waters: Orcas in Peril.”

Parts 1 and 2 of “Hostile Waters: Orcas in Peril”

The Hostile Waters series began in 2018 with the publication of Parts 1 and 2.


Orcas thrive in a land to the north. Why are Puget Sound’s dying?

Published November 11, 2018 | Read story »



How a generation of killer whales was taken from Puget Sound

Published December 13, 2018 | Read story »


Documentary video

Legislative impact

In 2019, the Washington state Legislature passed an unprecedented package of bills aiming to help recover the population of southern resident orcas.

SB 5577 called for the first state regulations on the whale-watching industry, including a requirement for permits, and the creation of limits by the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) on how many boats may be near the southern residents at any one time. The speed limit of vessels near the whales was reduced to 7 knots. The distance of whale watchers from the whales was increased.

HB 1579 for the first time empowered WDFW to say no to homeowners seeking permits for bulkheads and gave the agency new powers to enforce against illegal construction, to protect forage fish spawning areas and salmon migratory corridors.

SSB 5135 enacted the nation’s strongest law regulating toxics in consumer products — for the first time enabling the state to regulate not just individual chemicals but entire classes of toxic chemicals, such as flame retardants, in consumer products. Under the law the agency may ban use of chemicals in products, or require disclosure of chemicals and their harmful effects. Covered are a wide range of consumer goods, from personal care products to electronics to building materials.

HB 1578 requires a tug escort for barges carrying oil, to increase protection against oil spills.

The Legislature and governor from his own budget also funded:

  • Regulatory implementation of a new spill regime on the Columbia River dams to protect salmon
  • A review of the effects of dam removal on the Lower Snake River to boost salmon survival
  • Increased chinook salmon production in hatcheries intended to provide more food for the whales

Special section designs

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5