Since 1976, the Center for Whale Research has conducted observation-based studies of orcas in the Salish Sea.
Longtime CWR staff member Dave Ellifrit,
"Fin Guy," aboard CWR research vessel during an encounter with SRKWs.
ORCA SURVEY - CWR staff continue to collect detailed demographic data about the Southern Resident killer whale population for the Orca Survey. This dataset continues to provide unprecedented insights into killer whale biology and ecology that can inform management decisions to assist in the recovery of the population.
Aerial Observation Study - Working with a research team from the University of Exeter, CWR launched a research study using drones to study the behavior of the Southern Resident killer whales from a new perspective.
Published Studies - See a comprehensive list of publications where the Center for Whale Research has had involvement.
CWR kept state and federal politicians and the media focused on the No. 1 action necessary to satisfy the orcas’ food needs: Bypassing the four Lower Snake River dams in the US, so that natural wild Chinook salmon can recover and provide a sustainable food supply for the Southern Resident orca community.
Governor Inslee's Orca Task Force (formerly Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery and Task Force) - Ken Balcomb was a key Orca Task Force member. He wrote to Governor Inslee about the Orca Task Force's year one Report and Recommendations. At the same time, he wrote a letter to federal agencies involved in the restoration of the SRKW population with background and facts about orca demographics. Ken abstained from the consensus vote on the final Orca Task Force recommendations, expressing his reasoning to members of the media. CWR's Michael Weiss spoke out at these meetings during the public comment period.
Ken Balcomb speaking about the struggles experienced by the Southern Resident orcas.
CWR's Michael Weiss speaking out
during the public comment portion of a
Orca Task Force meeting.
In The Media - CWR spoke out boldly in the media concerning the sick and starving animals within the Southern Resident orca community. At various different times, Ken Balcomb and CWR staff were interviewed by CNN.com, The New York Times, NationalGeographic.com, King5 News Seattle, Q13 NEWS Seattle, CFAX 1070 Victoria, and others. CWR's Dr. Darren Croft and Michael Weiss wrote about The Future for Southern Residents in The Journal of the San Juan Islands.
ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center - Since the summer of 2018, close to 14,000 people from across North America and around the globe have visited the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center in Friday Harbor, WA, and learned about the Southern Resident orcas and their struggles from Manager, Katie Jones, and knowledgeable staff and volunteers. Attractions include Virtual Reality, computer education stations, The Whale Skull, lectures with experts, Monday Movie Night, and more.
A mighty voice for the Southern Resident orcas is a grassroots effort. The more people who become informed and involved, and speak out, the better chance the orcas have of living another day.
Locals and visitors gathered at the
ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center
the orcas of the Salish Sea.
WhaleResearch.com and Social Media Channels - CWR's website (WhaleResearch.com - approx. 360,000 pageviews in 2019!) and various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) provide up-to-date science and facts about the SRKWs, Encounters with the orcas, and actions taken toward saving the Southern Resident population. CWR delivered the WHALE Report (quarterly educational newsletter) to all Center for Whale Research Members.
The Salish Sea School - CWR is working with the Salish Sea School by providing video interviews with our field staff to this nature-focused school for kids and young adults based in Anacortes, WA.
Through involvement in documentary film productions, spearheading advertising campaigns, and speaking out through media interviews, CWR broadened awareness in the general population about the Southern Resident orcas short path toward extinction.
Watch an interview with CWR's Ken Balcomb by Peterson/Hawley Productions (DAMMED TO EXTINCTION), about the importance of
removing the Snake River Dams.
DAMMED TO EXTINCTION (download or disc) - With involvement by CWR and support from the Ruth Foundation, Steven Hawley and Michael Peterson produced the film DAMMED TO EXTINCTION. It offers a reasonable justification for removing the Lower Snake dams to the benefit of Chinook salmon and the orcas.
Seattle area Billboard Campaign - With support from the Ruth Foundation and Publicis Seattle, CWR launched a billboard campaign in the Seattle area about the plight of Southern Resident orcas. An estimated 22 million sets of eyes saw the rotating billboard messages during the sixteen-week campaign in late 2019.
R.I.P. Southern Resident Orcas Print Ad - CWR and DAMASENSE ran the GOVERNOR INSLEE, IS THIS HOW YOU'LL BE REMEMBERED? ad in The Seattle Times in a special section about the Southern Resident orcas. Advertising agency Publicis Seattle helped design the ad.