Featured Image Credit: Island Adventures Whale Watching
By Sarah Sharkey
The Washington Senate has just passed a rule to create a safer environment for the endangered orcas that live in their waters. The senators voted to allow a speed limit of seven knots for vessels traveling within 400 yards of a killer whale.
Although, there is some forgiveness built into the rule for captains who can’t see the whales in rough seas or if the visibility is extremely low. Other than those instances, killer whales will now be protected by this speed limit. It is hoped there will be fewer incidences between boats and orcas in Washington waters from now on.
The orcas that reside in Washington State are critically endangered. This rule will help a little, but the real problem lies with high noise levels caused by shipping traffic and a decreasing supply of food. The Chinook salmon is vitally important to the southern resident whales that live here year-round.
Without a robust supply of this fish, this population of whales has been under intense stress. Once you add in the increased shipping traffic that creates deafening underwater noise that drowns out the killer whale’s communications to each other, it is no wonder that their population is declining. If something drastic is not done soon, these whales could be gone forever soon.
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