What You Can Do

Three orca pods, J, K & L­—the critically endangered “Southern Residents”—were federally listed in 2005, but the population continues to struggle. How can you help? 

There are a lot of actions we can take in our day-to-day lives, from the grocery list and household chores to contacting elected officials. We've made the list below by gathering tips from several local conservation organizations dedicated to orca recovery. 

Courtesy of Ken Rea, Spirit of Orca
Courtesy of San Juan Excursions

What do Southern Residents need to thrive?

1. A healthy ecosystem: What goes down the drain will eventually end up in the ocean, and toxins have impacted this species.

2. Time to rest and socialize: Constant noise and disturbance disrupts their normal behavioral patterns and increases stress.

3. A sufficient supply of healthy salmon: Healthy rivers support more salmon, which is good for orcas and the entire ecosystem.


K26 Lobo courtesy of Cindy Hansen
Orca family by Hobbes Buchanan

What You Can Do to Help the Whales


1. Use your voice

  • Submit your comments directly to the Orca Recovery Task Force and demand that they: 
    • fully and fairly consider ALL options to protect these whales.
    • Take immediate action to help the Southern Residents and the salmon they depend on now, including ensuring the orcas have access to the salmon currently available. 
  • Reach out to your own elected officials and ask them to oppose any harmful changes to the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which provide crucial protections to this endangered population

2. Clean up your act Take steps in your home to reduce the number of contaminants entering the watershed

  • Switch to natural household cleaning products, i.e. Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs. Meyers
  • Choose natural beauty products, including shampoos and conditioners, that don't contain microplastics or other harmful chemicals
  • Build your own backyard rain garden to filter out pollutants
  • This includes your vehicle! 
    • Use self-serve or tunnel carwashes instead of your driveway to keep soap out of storm drains
    • Keep maintenance up to date and prevent harmful metals like copper dust from brakes mixing into stormwater runoff  

3. Choose your fish

  • Opt for salmon other than Chinook - try pink or chum salmon that are more plentiful.  
  • Say no to farmed salmon.
  • Learn more about sustainable seafood options 
  • Choose products labeled Salmon-Safe 

4. Reduce your use of plastic

  • Use reusable grocery bags, food storage bags, and mesh produce bags for shopping and more
  • Invest in reusable water bottles for the whole family
  • Use eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws and utensils

5. Add your name

6. Only whale watch with responsible tour companies

  • There are federally mandated laws and viewing guidelines for whale watching companies and other boaters to ensure orcas are not harmed, disturbed, or otherwise negatively affected by your presence. Before booking a trip, ask about the company's commitment to these guidelines and local conservation

7. Get involved in local clean-up efforts - or start one of your own! 

8. Going out on the water?


9. Support local organizations working to help the Southern Residents and the Salish Sea

10. Engage your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, everyone! 

  • Share the story of the Southern Residents and why they’re endangered.  The more people who know and love these orcas and demand action on their behalf, the better chance we have at saving them!