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On Friday, endangered killer whales received new habitat protections from the federal government. As ABC News reported,
The National Marine Fisheries Service finalized rules to expand the Southern Resident orca’s critical habitat from the Canadian border down to Point Sur, California, adding 15,910 square miles (41,207 square kilometers) of foraging areas, river mouths and migratory pathways.
“These critically endangered orcas are finally getting the federal habitat protections they desperately need,” Julie Teel Simmonds, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Associated Press.
“Resident” killer whales are fish eaters found along the coasts on both sides of the North Pacific. Southern Residents are the smallest of the ‘resident’ populations, are found mostly off British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, but also travel to forage widely along the outer coast. Their preferred food is Chinook salmon, thus conservation groups are also urging the increased protection of salmon in order to protect the orcas’ food source.
Is There More To Be Done?
While environmentalists have applauded these recent protections, they’ve suggested that more can be done to help the orca population recover — namely, instating habitat protections for salmon.
Chinook salmon, their main food source, has become increasingly scarce, particularly as the drought has depleted their numbers. Salmon overfishing, pollution, vessel disturbance, have threatened the orcas’ main source of food. Orcas appear to be malnourished, showing signs of “peanut head” — a condition in which a whale has lost so much body fat that a depression appears behind its blowhole.
“While this action helps ensure the orcas’ ocean home will be protected, more action is urgently needed to restore wild salmon populations the orcas depend on,” Ben Enticknap, a senior scientist with Oceana, said in a statement.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor The maned wolf is certainly a unique animal, with long legs, massive ears, and bright red fur. Many might compare it to a fox, but it’s actually South America’s largest canid species. And not only is the maned wolf elusive — it’s endangered. Researchers working with Rewilding Argentina and […]
Today is International Red Panda Day! These iconic and adorable creatures are worth celebrating for many reasons, but they’re also in need of serious protection. This cat-sized, fluffy-tailed animal is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Climate change and rising temperatures are reducing the red panda’s […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer In honor of World Animal Day on October 4th, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is hosting a virtual auction called “Art to Roam” in collaboration with Australian auction house Leonard Joel and creative studios worldwide. The event will raise funds for international artists, and also for the […]
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