Polaris, Dipper and the Death of the Southern Resident Killer Whales: Part 4: Noise Pollution


Humans live in a visual world, but whales live in an acoustic one. Killer Whales use sound like we use our eyes. By forcing air through their sinuses a clicking sound is created. This sound is focused out the front of the whales’ head using a fatty organ called a melon. This sound goes out into the environment and the echo is received through the whales’ jaw bone which is hollow and full of oil. This echolocation ability allows the whales to see - just with sound. Their echolocation is so good that scientists believe they can detect the larger sized swim bladder inside a Chinook Salmon and therefore know to target them.

Polaris, Dipper and the Death of the Southern Resident Killer Whales: Part 3: Toxins


The Center for Whale Research, which is the primary research institution studying the Southern Resident Killer Whales, have been observing that the whales have been noticeably absent from their core summer habitat. They are having to look harder for scarce and significantly smaller fish, which means they have to eat more individuals for the same amount of energy. This increase in individual fish consumed poses its own threat to the whales, as these salmon have toxins worked into their fat.

Polaris, Dipper and the Death of the Southern Resident Killer Whales: Part 2: Killer Whale Culture


Around the world, in every corner of the oceans, there are killer whales. They are the most widespread of mammals and depending on the geographic location and food source, they have differentiated populations based around culture. Each culture has a unique language, differing group size and hunting techniques depending on location and prey source. They become specialized on a particular prey and hunting techniques are passed down from generation to generation by the matriarch (matriarch is the female head of a family vs patriarch for a male).

Polaris, Dipper and the Death of the Southern Resident Killer Whales: Part 1


In her biography on the Center for Whale Research website, a young 23-year-old female Southern Resident killer whale named Polaris (J-28) is described as “a spunky whale usually found in the crowd.” This statement in the past has held true, however those of us who have been closely observing Polaris over the last several months will describe a completely different whale altogether.

Recommendations to improve protection of the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area


Based on our assessment of the marine species and ecosystems of the Scott Islands and the threats to their health, we make the following recommendations to improve the proposed protection measures for the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area.

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