This section doesn’t currently include any content. Add content to this section using the sidebar.

Image caption appears here

Add your deal, information or promotional text

Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest | BeCause Tees

Endangered Orcas of the Pacific Northwest: Southern Residents

Easily identifiable due to their size and black and white markings, orcas are magnificent ocean creatures. Also known as killer whales, they’re apex predators, meaning they’re at the top of the food chain and have no natural predators or enemies. You’d therefore think that orcas would be flourishing in all areas they call home, but this isn’t the case for some of those living in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the southern resident population of the Pacific Northwest orcas is listed as endangered and urgent action is needed to ensure they don’t become extinct.

Endangered orcas of the pacific northwest

What are the Southern Resident Orcas of the Pacific Northwest?

There are 3 populations of orcas: southern residents, transients, and offshore. Transient orcas move along the coast and feed on marine mammals, whereas offshore orcas live, as their name suggests, offshore away from the coast. Not enough is known about orcas globally, leading them to be categorised as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List.

On the other hand, southern resident orcas have been studied in more detail. This population remains as inland residents, or close to the coast and feeds exclusively on a particular type of salmon, the Chinook. This very restricted diet is one of the reasons why their numbers are so low. According to NOAA Fisheries, there are currently just 75 orcas in the southern resident population and this population is listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act and Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Why are the Southern Resident Orcas of the Pacific Northwest Endangered?

There are several factors that have led to the struggling population numbers of the southern resident orcas, with the main causes being:

Lack of Food

As previously mentioned, much of their struggle is caused by their reliance on Chinook salmon for food. Over the years, the numbers of Chinook salmon has vastly decreased due to habitat destruction, contamination and overfishing.


Toxins and chemicals found in the water poses problems to their health. Even though much has been done to try to reduce contamination levels, there will still be contaminants present in the water for many years to come.

Noise Pollution

Orcas use echolocation to communicate, navigate and hunt for prey, so noise created by boats prevents them from successfully using echolocation. They may be forced to use more energy in order to call louder.


What is Being Done to Help the Endangered Orcas?

These orcas are now protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Under the MMPA, NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the protection of orcas and their conservation efforts include:

  • Coordinating salmon habitat restoration efforts, with the aim of increasing Chinook salmon populations.
  • Aiming to prevent contamination in the water and cleaning up existing contamination.
  • Putting plans in place to mitigate damage caused by future oil spills if any were to occur.
  • Developing regulations for boats in the areas populated by orcas.


The southern resident orcas of the Pacific Northwest are an important part of the ecosystem and so their decline is very concerning. It’s hoped that the conservation work carried out will contribute to an increasing southern resident population of orcas, so that they’ll prosper and begin to thrive in their natural habitat once more.

Help us to help nature. Shop our nature-inspired designs and we'll fund the planting of trees, plus make a donation to nonprofits on your behalf for every order you place. 

Orca Shirt

Orca Collection

It's All Connected Orca Clothing

It's All Connected - Orca Whale Collection


Leave a comment (all fields required)

Comments will be approved before showing up.