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Thank you again for your steadfast love of the Southern Resident orcas and support of the Center for Whale Research. Your generosity ensures our ongoing efforts to understand and assist the J, K, and L pod families now and for generations to come. Our focus is on their future . . . in a changing world.

Dear Center for Whale Research Supporter,


We constantly reflect on the Center for Whale Research (CWR) and Ken Balcomb’s achievements as we make strategic choices for our future. At the forefront of these plans are how we navigate and adapt our research to allow us to support the conservation of the Southern Resident orcas (SRKWs) in a changing world.


Our long-term data, which spans back almost 50 years, shows that the SRKWs spend less and less time in their traditional Salish Sea core summer habitat due to insufficient wild Chinook salmon, their primary food. This changing pattern of habitat use, due to the lack of principal prey, requires altering our approach to our research undertakings. We must travel further afield to document the SRKWs, monitor their health, and study their behaviors. Often, we must be on the sea in less-than-ideal weather conditions.


It became clear to Ken and our team that the Center for Whale Research needed to adapt to the orca’s expanded habitat and replace our most crucial scientific-study tool: our research vessel. Our current 41-year-old boat cannot travel the distances to assess and study the whales and keep our field researchers safe. It needed replacing. CWR’s new 23’ LIFE PROOF research vessel is on order (Read: New vessel will open up new opportunities for Center for Whale Research fieldwork).


Your financial support ensures that our ORCA SURVEY and Aerial Observation Study research continues, helps us provide public education about the iconic orcas through the ORCA SURVEY Outreach & Education Center and, and allows us to invest in ecosystem conservation like Balcomb BIG SALMON Ranch vital to the survival of all inhabitants of the Salish Sea. 



Additional DONATION options


The Kenneth C. Balcomb III Memorial Fund was established in Ken’s honor. Donations to the Memorial Fund will carry his five decades of orca research and advocacy forward for years to come.


The Center for Whale Research’s (CWR) Southern Residents orca study began in 1976 and is the longest study of this population. One of Ken’s goals was that CWR’s research would continue for 150 years. The CWR board of directors and staff shares Ken’s vision and mission to preserve and protect the magnificent but critically endangered Southern Resident orcas. 

Your MEMORIAL FUND donation will directly support CWR’s ongoing research, education, and conservation efforts.

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In our changing research world, where the Southern Resident orcas spend less time in their core summer habitat and are more spread out, we need a vessel that travels further, faster, and in various weather conditions. Our new LIFE PROOF  boat will meet the challenges.

“With the [SRKWs] expanded in-season geographical range, it is necessary to have a vessel capable of traveling wider distances quickly and safely and has increased working deck area.”

— Ken Balcomb, CWR Founder 

Your RESEARCH VESSEL FUND donation will directly support the purchase. We have secured ($154,000) of the cost of the LIFE PROOF vessel (total cost is $198,083). Your donation will help us meet the balance. 

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Make a one-time or monthly donation in honor or memory of a loved one, friend, or colleague. Others in this persons life can also donate, knowing the cause was close to the honorees heart. And you can include a dedication.

Sample dedications: 

In memory of Shannon. Gone far too soon, but whose crusade was helping save the Southern Resident orcas.

“This donation is made in memory of our beloved grandmother Violet who truly loved whales, especially the majestic black and white orcas.”

Your IN MEMORY/HONOR donation will directly support the Center for Whale Research’s ongoing scientific studies, education, and conservation efforts.


Dear CWR Supporters (continued)

Every day, we remember and celebrate Ken Balcomb’s lifetime commitment, vision, and numerous accomplishments. He repeatedly said: “I want my life’s work to continue for over 100 years, greater than a single Southern Resident killer whale’s lifetime and greater than one researcher’s. Please keep working and fighting.”


Ken appreciated the pivotal role that the Center for Whale Research’s financial supporters—YOU—played in achieving our daily and long-term goals. We hope you will continue to help fund our RESEARCH, EDUCATION, and CONSERVATION initiatives to benefit the Southern Resident orcas and the Salish Sea habitat.


With our sincere gratitude,


Center for Whale Research Board of Directors, and Staff


Note. ORCA SURVEY is the longest continuous study of any marine mammal on earth, leading to numerous discoveries that have changed how we view orcas.

“The Center for Whale Research has been conducting ORCA SURVEY for nearly five decades, but that isn’t quite the lifespan of a Southern Resident killer whale. To truly understand their ecology, life history, and society, we must monitor and observe these whales for at least a lifetime, and ideally for multiple generations. That’s why continuing our research is so crucial.”


 Dr. Michael Weiss, Research Director, Center for Whale Research

Your tax-deductible Donation goes directly to financially supporting our research of the iconic Southern Resident orcas and empowering educational outreach about this species, while continually defending and speaking for this gravely endangered population that cannot speak for themselves. The orcas need your help like never before. Any Donation amount large or small helps!

The Center for Whale Research is a 501c3 non profit organization registered in Washington State.

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