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NOAA Fisheries Completes 5-Year Review of Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales

January 04, 2022

The Endangered Species Act 5-year review on Southern Resident killer whales concluded that this species continues to face a high risk of extinction and should remain listed as endangered.

Southern Resident killer whales encountered during NOAA's Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey in October 2021 Southern Resident killer whales encountered during NOAA's PODs (Pacific Orcinus Distribution Survey) in October 2021 near the west end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Credit: NOAA Fisheries/Brad Hanson

Every 5 years, NOAA Fisheries reviews the status of species listed under the Endangered Species Act to make sure they have the protection they need. We have completed our review of endangered Southern Resident killer whales and confirm they should remain listed as endangered.

The review also underscores the work we must still do to recover this declining species. We have made important strides, including:

  • Expanding critical habitat

  • Limiting commercial and recreational Chinook salmon fishing in years of low abundance

  • Releasing more salmon from hatcheries to supplement their prey

  • Funding restoration of habitat essential to the salmon the whales depend on as prey

However, we must work with our partners to do more.

5-Year Review for Southern Resident Killer Whales

Explore the Southern Resident Connections blog series