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Forty-eight-year-old J pod matriarch, J16, leads her son, J26, in search of scarcely available Chinook salmon. Like the mature female leaders in K pod and L pod, J16 is responsible for Navigating a NEW Course in search of nourishment for her family members and the other orcas in
J pod. (Photograph by CWR's Dave Ellifrit.)

the WHALE Report

June // 2020 

CWR Member News  // Published Quarterly

Homo sapiens. If and when the scary part is over, I then hope that we live up
to our self-proclaimed title sapiens and start really taking care of Mother Earth.
Some serious adjustments of human activity are in order
when the worst of the virus is over,
not just a return to business as usual.
- Ken Balcomb, CWR Founder


An excerpt from Ken Balcomb's April 22, 2020, Earth Day message to

Centre for Whale Research members, supporters, and followers.



2020 Encounter summary:
29 Encounters through May 31, 2020 
  • Southern Resident killer whale encounters: 8

  • Transient/Bigg's killer whale encounters: 21


Encounters with killer whales in inland waters since March 1. Encounter #14 - #29, are marked on the map: SRKW Encounters with blue numbered dots and Transients/Bigg's with black numbered dots. These locator dots are active links to the full Encounter Summary (desktop version only).

CWR Member photo DOWNLOAD 

Tactile Transients 

Encounter #16 (Photo by CWR's Katie Jones

For personal use only.

See 2020 Encounters for a complete description of encounters.
Salish Sea Ecosystem.jpg

Salish Sea Transboundary Ecosystem 

Click map to enlarge

Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada 

Salish Sea: Measures 17,000 sq km with 7,470 sq km of coastline; 37 species of mammals, 172 species of birds, 247 species of fish, and over 3000 species of invertebrate inhabit the region (119 of these are at risk); eight million people make their home in the area (Source: SeaDoc Society).

Southern Resident Killer Whale Population: 73*
J pod = 22, K pod = 17, L pod = 34

The official Southern Resident orca population is 73 whales. With L41 missing and presumed deceased, the SRKW population count is provisionally 72.


CWR has documented 29 killer whale encounters through May 31 (8 Southern Resident sightings, 21 Transient/Bigg's sightings). During the five years before 2020, CWR staff observed and documented SRKWs in the first five months of the year as follows: 2019 - 11, 2018 - 10, 2017 - 18, 2016 - 17, 2015 - 13.


For the third year in a row, CWR field researchers did not see SRKWs in May.


*The official annual count of Southern Resident orcas is reported July 1 and December 31 of each year. 


SRKW Births and Deaths (1975-2019) 

Click chart to enlarge 

© 2020 Copyright Center for Whale Research.

Created by Jane Cogan. 

Derivative use requires written approval.

Navigating a NEW Course
Southern Resident orcas have practiced physical distancing for several years!