More than 130 orcas spotted Thursday in the Salish Sea, but population concerns remain


There’s some great news off the coast of B.C. as more than 130 orcas were spotted on Thursday, but experts warn population concerns still remain.

The Orca Behavior Institute posted on social media early Friday morning that the whales were seen throughout the Salish Sea, bringing lots of excitement.

Story continues below

Approximately 60 Bigg’s, or mammal-hunting orcas, and more than 70 salmon-eating Southern Resident killer whales were spotted in both B.C. and U.S. waters.

“This is one of the first times where we have really had this overlap where both populations were here in such great numbers,” Monika Wieland Shields, director of the Orca Behavior Institute said. “It was really a remarkable day – probably a record setting day.”

These sightings come one day after a pod of orcas were spotted just metres off the shore of Gabriola Island.

READ MORE: ‘Literally just feet away’: Orcas stampede past onlookers in Gabriola Island

Wieland Shields said these sighting are incredible and suggests there could be enough food for both the mammal-hunting whales and Southern Residents in the area.

She warns that while this is exciting to see, there are still concerns, particularly around the Southern Resident population.

Wieland Shields said the Southern Residents are critically endangered and the population has been declining overall, so they haven’t been seen very much over the last few years.

“While this is definitely a positive sign for them to come in all together in the ways that they used to we still have a lot of work to do to make sure that we continue to have enough fish to support them and help their population grow once again,” she said.

Jared Towers, director of Bay Cetology, said there are a few things people can do to help the endangered orcas, like making conscious decisions on what they eat.

“Also how they deal with their own waste, what kind of products they choose to use and be conscious of the fact that many things that we use end up back in the ocean,” Towers said.

Wieland Shields said it might be too early to say that these sighting, combined with two new calfs in L-pod this year, is a return of the Southern Resident population, but it is a small glimmer of hope.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!