Publication number: 2007-01
Author(s): Birgit Kriete
Ecologically, economically and recreationally, southern resident and transient orcas (killer whales) have become greatly important to the nearshore environment of Puget Sound. Economically, whale watching in the San Juan Islands alone has become a $10 million industry in the last few years. The stock of southern resident killer whales (SRKW) in the eastern North Pacific declined by almost 20% in a five-year period to fewer than 80 individuals in 2001. These top predators use nearshore locations for foraging and travel and are very susceptible to human disturbances and ecosystem decline. Their long life expectancy and position at the top of the food web contribute to the whales’ accumulation of toxins. Decreased reproductive success has also been linked with reduced prey availability.
Kriete, B. 2007. Orcas in Puget Sound. Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership Report No. 2007-01. Published by Seattle District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle, Washington.