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Scientists discuss causes of Southern resident orca decline today at U.W. Friday Harbor Labs

The recent loss of seven Puget Sound orcas – close to 10 percent of the Sound’s orca population – has prompted the Puget Sound Partnership to convene a special meeting of salmon and orca experts today, 4-5:30 p.m., at the U.W. Friday Harbor Labs.

The Partnership’s Science Panel will discuss with the specialists:
—  Declines in population;
—  The association that the loss of Chinook salmon has on the declines; and
—  What steps the Partnership can take to address the situation in the near and long term.

The meeting is part of a two-day Science Panel work session being held today and Wednesday at the Labs.

The Puget Sound Partnership is developing a plan to improve the health of Puget Sound by 2020. The San Juan Initiative is the local component of the overall plan.

Today at 10 a.m., the Science Panel will review the draft Action Agenda, the Biennial Science Work Plan and the Strategic Science Plan. At 1 p.m., Dr. Joseph K. Gaydos of The SeaDoc Society will present, "Redesigning a Healthy Puget Sound: Ten Commandments." At 2:15 p.m., the Science Panel will discuss its role in the next steps for the Puget Sound Partnership, including implementation of the Action Agenda and integration of science and policy.

At 4 p.m., the meeting's focus turns to the endangered Southern resident killer whales, whose population has dropped to 83. Participants will discuss declines in population, the perceived or real association that the loss of chinook salmon has on the declines; and what steps the Partnership can take to address the situation in the near and long term.

On Wednesday, the meeting reconvenes at 8:30 a.m. Topics include Strategic Science Plan, Public Comment period and toxins in Puget Sound.

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