No, orcas can’t be taught to eat seal lions and not salmon

Regarding Stan Walker’s Dec. 9 letter to the editor, suggesting Southern Resident orcas be taught to eat sea lions, the 74 remaining endangered Southern Resident killer whales are strictly fish eaters. They do not eat any marine mammals such as seals or sea lions like the other population, Bigg’s orcas. These are two totally different ecotypes that do not interact or interbreed. Teaching the fish-eating orcas to eat seals or sea lions would be as impossible as teaching a humming bird to eat a worm. It will never happen.

Furthermore, when the Southern Residents do not get enough of their aforementioned fish diet, they start metabolizing their blubber. Unfortunately, this is where all of the contaminants are stored. So yes, the contaminants are a huge issue in this area and need to be immediately addressed, but so does the lack of fish.

The removal of the four lower Snake River dams will provide the quickest way to provide millions more chinook salmon to the starving Southern Residents.

This orca population is intricately connected to the Snake River dams as they spend a large portion of their life foraging off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. Thanks to many years of NOAA tracking data, a lot of this endangered orca population’s time and attention is spent at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The 74 remaining endangered Southern Residents are almost out of time and the breaching of the Snake River dams is one of the many things that needs to occur to save this population. Again, not the only solution but one of the necessary many.

Amy Eberling


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