Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What’s at stake


In 2002 the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) declared that the Southern
Resident Killer Whales,  also known as Orcinus orca, which make their home in
Washington State waters during the summer months as endangered. According to NMFS, the key reasons for this listing included habitat degradation, prey depletion and human-generated underwater sound.*
Immediate action is required to maintain this population and its long term viability. Citizens of all ages across the entire region need to understand their connection to the environment and find ways to mitigate there own influence on these whales to help correct problems created by those in the past.
As of fall 2008 only 83 members of this endangered population have survived.  The summer of 2008 alone has seen seven animals disappear, nearly a ten percent drop in the total population. This is one of the largest declines since intensive census data recording began in the 1970’s.
*G.J. Wiles 2004, Washington State Status Report for the Killer Whale. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia.
In 2002 the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) declared that the Southern
Resident Killer Whales,  also known as Orcinus orca, which make their home in
Washington State waters during the summer months as endangered. According to NMFS, the key reasons for this listing included habitat degradation, prey depletion and human-generated underwater sound.*
Immediate action is required to maintain this population and its long term viability. Citizens of all ages across the entire region need to understand their connection to the environment and find ways to mitigate there own influence on these whales to help correct problems created by those in the past.
As of fall 2008 only 83 members of this endangered population have survived.  The summer of 2008 alone has seen seven animals disappear, nearly a ten percent drop in the total population. This is one of the largest declines since intensive census data recording began in the 1970’s.
*G.J. Wiles 2004, Washington State Status Report for the Killer Whale. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia.
In 2002 the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) declared that the Southern
Resident Killer Whales,  also known as Orcinus orca, which make their home in
Washington State waters during the summer months as endangered. According to NMFS, the key reasons for this listing included habitat degradation, prey depletion and human-generated underwater sound.*
Immediate action is required to maintain this population and its long term viability. Citizens of all ages across the entire region need to understand their connection to the environment and find ways to mitigate there own influence on these whales to help correct problems created by those in the past.
As of fall 2008 only 83 members of this endangered population have survived.  The summer of 2008 alone has seen seven animals disappear, nearly a ten percent drop in the total population. This is one of the largest declines since intensive census data recording began in the 1970’s.
*G.J. Wiles 2004, Washington State Status Report for the Killer Whale. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Olympia.

mom-and-2-calves

As schools face constrained resources, curriculum that inspires active participation in environmental protection has become rare. Teachers are hard-pressed for time to develop compelling programming, and field-based educational opportunities are being taken off the table. Science education is more important than ever, yet our schools lack the most necessary resources to engage kids in science in the most compelling ways.

These shrinking resources come at a cost: as a generation of kids has less opportunity to explore the world around them in new and different ways, they can’t develop an awareness and passion for the environment. We believe the key inherent to countering this is to give kids the opportunity to learn what science looks like in real life.

Meanwhile, Puget Sound’s killer whales have been declared endangered, and the species continues to suffer from habitat degradation, prey depletion, and human-generated underwater sound. Immediate action is require to recover this population and ensure its long-term viability.

As inhabitants of the region, we all have a part to play in killer whale recovery. This immediate need, combined with the challenges faced by our education system, creates an ideal win-win scenario to teach children science and protect a species that is emblematic of the Pacific Northwest.

By introducing kids to those who have dedicated their lives to environmental work and creating a role for them to play in the scientific process, we ignite critical sparks that inspire a lifelong connection with the outdoors. Without this, we fear that fewer and fewer kids will serve as the environmental stewards of tomorrow.

Killer whales lend themselves spectacularly to science education. They are rooted in place, creating a tie to the schools we serve; killer whale social dynamics mirror humans in many ways, helping children relate; and, most importantly, the actions we take can have a direct positive impact on their survival. These factors in total present a perfect opportunity to introduce kids to environmental stewardship and action.