21 episodes

A-Pod Cast for Killer Whales with host Alison Morrow explores the challenges facing the survival of the J, K, and L-Pod Southern Resident killer whales, the 73 orcas on the brink of extinction.

A-Pod Cast For Killer Whales Alison Morrow

    • Natural Sciences
    • 3.5, 2 Ratings

A-Pod Cast for Killer Whales with host Alison Morrow explores the challenges facing the survival of the J, K, and L-Pod Southern Resident killer whales, the 73 orcas on the brink of extinction.

    Dawn Noren: "What's Killing Killer Whales?"

    Dawn Noren: "What's Killing Killer Whales?"

    Dawn Noren is a federal research biologist with NOAA. She studies the physiology of the Southern Resident killer whales, specifically focused on blubber and body condition. She has worked on several high profile cases, including the historic intervention staged to save the young ailing J50, who eventually disappeared and is presumed dead. Recovery conversations have mostly focused on food, as the Southern Resident orcas only eat fish and their preferred diet, Chinook salmon, are also declining. While Noren does not disagree with the need to recovery salmon runs, her research shows that the whales are likely facing a much more complicated battle to survive. At the time of this recording, there are just 73 Southern resident killer whales left alive in the wild.

    • 20 min
    Snohomish River Fish Team: "Saving Salmon, Saving Orcas"

    Snohomish River Fish Team: "Saving Salmon, Saving Orcas"

    Snohomish County and the Tulalip Tribes survey fish four times a month around the Snohomish River estuary by setting a net and counting the fish it catches. They measure size, record species, and look to see if Chinook salmon are recovering in light of habitat restoration projects. Chinook salmon are the preferred food of the Southern Resident killer whales, the 76 orcas on the brink of extinction. Since the fish aren't doing well, the whales are starving. Scientists have focused much of their effort on restoring salmon habitat which has been lost to development, agriculture and other issues, but they say the projects are way behind and need to speed up if we want the orcas and their favorite prey to survive.

    • 20 min
    Linda Rhodes: "Parasites In Sewage"

    Linda Rhodes: "Parasites In Sewage"

    Linda Rhodes is a microbiologist with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Science Center who studies how parasites in human sewage and animal waste may be hurting the Southern Resident killer whales. The amount of human sewage that ends up in the Salish Sea will shock you. It creates parasites that can enter the whales through their blow holes when they come up for air. Remnants of sewage have also been detected deep within the water column. It's possible these microbes could be causing the orcas to feel sick enough they don't want to eat, which may contribute to their health risks. Often experts point to a lack of food for the whales, who prefer Chinook salmon, which are also dwindling in number. But what if in addition to a lack of food, the Southern Residents just aren't hungry because they're sick?

    • 21 min
    Tim Ragen: "Recovering Endangered Mammals"

    Tim Ragen: "Recovering Endangered Mammals"

    Tim Ragen spent 15 years as a research biologist for NOAA, coordinated stellar sea lion recovery efforts, and then worked for 13 years with the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. He has invaluable insight into what it takes to recover a species on the brink of extinction like the Southern Resident killer whales. Interestingly, Ragen supports a cull of seals and sea lions as a drastic measure to save decreasing Chinook salmon stocks, the preferred prey of the Southern Resident orcas, who do not eat marine mammals or sharks like other killer whales. Ragen asks all of us, what kind of world do we want to live in and are we doing all we can to protect that future?

    • 30 min
    Kurt Russo: "Feeding Our Orca Ancestors"

    Kurt Russo: "Feeding Our Orca Ancestors"

    For thousands of years, the Lummi Nation has been performing ceremonial feedings for killer whales, and continue that tradition today with the Southern Resident killer whales, who are now facing the real possibility of extinction.  The Lummi believe the orcas are their ancestors. They recently assisted in a historic intervention to save the ailing calf, J50, who eventually died. Kurt Russo is with the Lummi Nation's Sovereignty and Treaty Protection office. 

    • 16 min
    Lanni Johnson: "17 Days Without Food"

    Lanni Johnson: "17 Days Without Food"

    Lanni Johnson is a 71-year old grandmother from Snohomish, Washington who starved herself for 17 days to raise awareness of the plight of the 75 Southern Resident killer whales who are on the brink of extinction. In this episode, she talks about what it was like to go 17 days without eating and why she says she had to do it. 

    • 26 min

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