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J34 breaching

Photo by Dave Ellifrit, March 2016

J34 1998-2016

J34 with Mt. Baker in the background

Photo by Dave Ellifrit, February 2016

Press Release –

December 22, 2016

Another Southern Resident Killer Whale has died!

We regret having to make a distressing announcement during this holiday season, but we confirm from news photographs and eyepatch photos sent to the Center for Whale Research that the killer whale carcass that was towed to a beach near Sechelt on the BC Sunshine coast is indeed that of J34, an eighteen-year-old male in the iconic J pod of the Endangered Southern Resident Killer population. The carcass was observed floating near shore on Tuesday, December 20th 2016 and was recovered by coast guard personnel and Sechelt First Nation members.

We are awaiting the results of a necropsy conducted late Wednesday by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for an official report of J34’s body condition and cause of death.


At least four other J pod members have died so far in 2016: J55 in January, J14 in July, and a mother and calf J28 and J54 in October.

J34’s eighteen-year-old cousin, J32, died from birthing complications and emaciation in December 2014 and her necropsy report was released to the public in April 2016.

For over a decade, we have been voicing concern that these whales are not getting sufficient salmon for their survival and that all fisheries management options should be considered including catch limits and strategic dam removal to recover endangered wild salmon populations. However, a blue-ribbon panel of experts assembled by DFO and NOAA Fisheries concluded in 2012 that they were: “skeptical that reduced Chinook salmon harvesting would have a large impact on the abundance of Chinook salmon available to SRKW.”

However, in May 2016 Federal District Court Judge Michael D. Simon rejected the status quo on dam operations on the Columbia and Snake Rivers and called for an extensive National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review to determine dam related impacts to federally endangered salmon in the Columbia basin – salmon that are vital to the Southern Resident killer whales in coastal waters during the winter months and when they do not find sufficient food in the Salish Sea during the rest of the year.

Assuming no other whales are missing, J pod now has 25 members, K pod 19 members, and L pod 35 members

Total SRKW population 79, but this number is obviously subject to change with births and deaths at any time.



To continue to monitor the health of this fragile population we need to be on the water year round.


$50,000.00. We need your support to achieve this goal.

Our goal is to raise money to cover our Health Assessment Study for 2017. Based on the number of encounters we have been on this year that cost will be approximately $50,000.

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