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Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2021-2025, Southern Resident Killer Whale

April 21, 2021

The Species in the Spotlight initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save marine species most at-risk of extinction in the near future. This plan focuses on priority actions needed in 2021-2025 for the Southern Resident killer whale.

In 2015, NOAA Fisheries launched the Species in the Spotlight initiative to provide immediate, targeted efforts to halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk of extinction in the near future. The priority action plans are part of a strategy to focus resources within and outside of NOAA, guide agency actions where we have discretion to make investments, increase public awareness and support for these species, and expand partnerships. The 2021-2025 Priority Action Plans outline actions that are needed in the next 5 years to address the most urgent threats to the species.

The Southern Resident killer whale DPS was identified as one of the most at-risk species because the population has relatively high mortality and low reproduction and is currently well below the population growth goals identified in its ESA Recovery Plan (NMFS 2008). Unlike other North Pacific killer whale populations, which have generally been increasing since federal protection was initiated in the 1970s, the Southern Resident population remains small and vulnerable and has not had a net increase in abundance since the mid-1980s. Under the comprehensive recovery program for Southern Residents, collaboration is vital, and long-term engagement is required from numerous partners ranging from California to Alaska.

Last updated by Office of Protected Resources on 10/04/2022

Killer Whale Species in the Spotlight Species in the Spotlight Priority Action Plans