Southern Resident Orca (SRKW)
SRKW Population (July 1, 2022): 73 whales
J Pod=25, K Pod=16, L Pod=32
Members of the Southern Resident orcas’ L pod swimming in Haro Strait on September 11, 2021
Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the population of J, K, and L pods was significantly reduced due to whale captures for marine park exhibitions. The abductors killed at least 13 orcas during the captures; 45 whales were delivered to parks worldwide. Only one SRKW remains alive in captivity.
Center for Whale Research
Southern Resident killer whale
The Center for Whale Research has completed its annual census of the Southern Resident killer whale population for the National Marine Fisheries Service. As of July 1, 2022, the Southern Resident killer whale population comprised 73 individuals. A decrease from the census as of July 1, 2021, when the orca population was 74.
From July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022, the population had three deaths: K21, K44, and L89. K21 was last seen in late July 2021 in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, severely emaciated. When he failed to be seen in subsequent encounters with his social associates, he was declared deceased soon after. From community observations, we know that K44 was alive as of late April 2022; however, he was not seen in subsequent encounters with his family. The body of a juvenile male killer whale, matching K44’s size and with markings consistent with a southern resident, was found entangled off the Oregon coast in late June, however, a lack of further photographs or biological samples prevents a definitive ID. L89 was last seen in late 2021 and not seen in 2022, despite repeated encounters with his mother and social group.
During this period, there were also two new births. J37 had her second offspring, J59, in February of 2022. In May, CWR observation determined that J59 is female. K20 also had her second offspring, a female, K45, sometime in April 2022. Both calves appeared healthy in recent observations.
The July 1, 2022 census marks the lowest L pod census since the study began in 1976, with 32 individuals. K pod sits at its lowest number in the last two decades, at 16 individuals. With no mortalities and a single birth, J pod now totals 25 individuals.