Only 75 southern resident killer whales remain in the wild, and the population is looking directly at extinction if humans don’t pay immediate attention to their plight. A new podcast series, Pod of Orcas: Saving Southern Resident Killer Whales, aims to tell their story over six-weeks.
The podcast, which launches April 1, is produced by the SeaDoc Society, a donor-funded program of the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center that is based on Orcas Island, Washington.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say we could lose the population entirely in the not-so-distant future,” said Justin Cox, SeaDoc Society communications manager and producer/host of the podcast. “We wanted to make a series that’s rooted in science that could appeal to the wider population, beyond those who are already working hard to save the southern resident killer whales.”
Southern resident killer whales are facing three major challenges, and they all compound one another.
- Their sole food source, salmon, has plummeted in the Salish Sea. There are fewer fish, and the fish that remain are far smaller than they were in the past.
- Shipping traffic and boat noise have made the sea louder. That is a big deal considering orcas hunt and communicate through sound.
- Humans have released contaminants in the water, and scientists are finding high concentrations of them in killer whales after their deaths. Persistent toxins compromise their immune systems and can even be passed down to babies through their milk.
Killer whales are emotionally intelligent animals, and they have complex family dynamics. They also have a deep spiritual connection to the tribes and First Nations who have been in the Salish Sea since time immemorial.
“I was lucky to speak with some incredible guests, and I can’t wait to share these conversations,” said Cox. “We explore everything from salmon, noise and toxins to culture, captivity, history and even what we could learn from mountain gorilla conservation.”
The series is hosted by Cox and Kevin Campion of the SeaDoc Society and features a different guest and a specific topic on each episode. The debut episode features renowned orca researcher John Ford, who has studied the species since the 1970s and will describe how things have become so dire for this population of whales.
The SeaDoc Society conducts science-based conservation and education work throughout the Salish Sea.
The podcast is available on all podcast apps under the name Pod of Orcas: Saving Southern Resident Killer Whales. Episodes are also available at www.seadocsociety.org/podoforcas.
- Justin Cox, UC Davis SeaDoc Society, 530-219-5227, email@example.com
- Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-750-9195, firstname.lastname@example.org
Press kit: Logo, photos, trailer.