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NOAA Fisheries

US - Feds begin five-year review of endangered Southern Resident orcas

On Earth Day, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, also called NOAA Fisheries, published a notice in the Federal Register about one of Washington’s most talked-about species: Southern Resident orcas.

NOAA Fisheries is initiating a five-year status review of the orcas, which were listed as endangered in 2005 under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Since the 1990s, the number of orcas in the three family groups — called J, K and L pods — that make up the population has dropped from the high 90s to the low 70s. The orcas, also called killer whales, live along the West Coast and frequent the Salish Sea.

NOAA Fisheries is initiating a five-year status review of the orcas, which were listed as endangered in 2005 under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Since the 1990s, the number of orcas in the three family groups — called J, K and L pods — that make up the population has dropped from the high 90s to the low 70s. The orcas, also called killer whales, live along the West Coast and frequent the Salish Sea.

Since being listed as endangered in 2005, the population declined from 88 orcas to a recent low of 72, according to the Center for Whale Research and NOAA Fisheries. As of February, the population was estimated at 75 orcas, including some recently identified calves.

The Endangered Species Act requires five-year reviews to determine whether a species is recovering or remains at risk of extinction.

NOAA Fisheries is accepting public comment for 60 days on new information about the orcas that has become available since the last such review in 2016.

Read more.