Orca Month celebrates ‘We Are Family’

Submitted by Orca Salmon Alliance

June marks the 15th annual Orca Action Month in Washington state and the sixth annual celebration in Oregon and British Columbia. Members of the Orca Salmon Alliance (OSA) are hosting events throughout the month to educate the public about the Southern Resident orca community and the challenges they face: a reduction in their preferred prey, Chinook salmon, pollutants in the water, higher risk for oil spills, and increased human-made noise in the ocean.

By working together from Northern California through British Columbia, covering the whole range of the Southern Residents, we can help restore this struggling orca population and the places they call home. Join us for a month of educational and celebratory events designed to bring our communities together to better understand the threats facing our Southern Resident orcas and inspire action to protect them.

Orca Month’s 2021 theme “We Are Family” underscores the distinct parallels between Southern Resident orca families and human families, while recognizing the whales’ individual community, strong family bonds, and unique culture.

Through “We Are Family” messaging, activities, and events, organizers hope to celebrate this iconic, world-famous population and bring together tribal members, researchers, orca lovers, and elected officials to inspire action and advocacy efforts to protect this highly endangered population. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to get involved and participate throughout this exciting month.

Orca Month Kick-Off Festival

When: 11 a.m.– 3 p.m., Sunday, June 6

Where: Virtual festival. RSVP at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4fyMc-wpTH2uncq1LgxTXQ?fbclid=IwAR25kkdXmvx9Ut4kfk89CuTBaQU12pb6HaaNedEFEL8Z695sO-7YmL8CY8k.

What: A family-friendly event to kick off June as Orca Action Month. This event includes presentations from world-renowned orca experts and scientists, educational videos about orcas around the world, music from Pilots in Training, and a special presentation of the Seattle Aquarium’s Dive Show all about the salmon and orca connection. Special guests include Washington Poet Laureate Rena Priest, Washington State Rep. Debra Lekanoff, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, a famous orca research dog, and more!

Who: Emcee Alan Budwill; Washington State Representative Debra Lekanoff; California U.S. Representative Jared Huffman; Ken Balcomb, Lodie Budwill, and Michael Weiss from the Center for Whale Research; Mike Ford from NOAA Fisheries; Monika Wieland Shields from Orca Behavior Institute; Ingrid Visser from Orca Research Trust; Craig Matkin from North Gulf Oceanic Society; Erich Hoyt from Whale and Dolphin Conservation; Dr. Deborah Giles from Wild Orca, and more.

Why: Orca Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating all ages about the whales of the Pacific Northwest, started Orca Month in 2007 to bring together researchers, advocates, and orca lovers everywhere to raise awareness of the threats facing the Southern Resident orcas while providing a community celebration of the orcas of the Salish Sea. Orca Month is now celebrated in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia to engage communities throughout the range of the Southern Residents to learn more and take action for Southern resident orcas.

Additional events, both virtual and in-person, will be taking place throughout the month. Visit our website at orcamonth.com and view our Orca Month video at https://youtu.be/GFU7WpHAjmk to learn more, and find ways to participate in orca recovery efforts.

Orca Salmon Alliance works to highlight the connection between two endangered species that need help: Southern Resident orcas and Chinook Salmon. Our primary objective is to prevent the extinction of the SRKWs by recovering the wild Chinook populations upon which the whales depend for survival. Member organizations of OSA include Center for Biological Diversity; Defenders of Wildlife; Earthjustice; Endangered Species Coalition; Friends of the San Juans; Natural Resources Defense Council; Oceana; Orca Network; Puget Soundkeeper Alliance; Save our Wild Salmon; Seattle Aquarium; Sound Action; Toxic Free Future; Washington Environmental Council; Whale and Dolphin Conservation; Whale Scout; and Wild Orca.