Oceans Initiative will advance the knowledge and conservation of endangered SROs as we assess critical habitat use throughout their range. Our team will interrogate decades’ worth of spatially explicit SRO behavioral data and time series on inter-annual variability in salmon abundance. Using a new, larger sample size covering nearly 20 years, we will model and map how SROs use their Salish Sea habitat for feeding, resting, socializing, and traveling, and how these have changed over time. We will then build a predictive tool that links SRO behavior to salmon and guides enhanced protection measures (fishing closures, no-go zones, marine protected areas, ship slow-downs). Managers will have access to this dynamic tool that can help predict where key foraging areas will be in good and bad salmon years, so that enhanced protection measures can be implemented to benefit the whales at the least cost to other ocean users.
Assess Critical Habitat Use Throughout the Southern Resident Orca’s Range to Guide Recovery
Orca Fund, 2022
North Sound/Salish Sea