Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales Get Love and Much Needed Help from Oregon Junior High School Students

Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales Get Love and Much Needed Help from Oregon Junior High School Students

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission received a surprise at their February hearing when thirty junior high school students filed into the room mid-morning.

They were there to urge the commission to list the Southern Resident Killer Whales as endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

Ten students gave testimony, four individually and the others as two groups of three. They were poised, cited scientific research and talked about the Southern Residents Killer Whales matriarchal cooperative culture.

They interspersed their talks with empathy and compassion towards the killer whales and underscored the urgency that is needed for recovery efforts.

They talked about the 74 orcas being in dangerous decline because of a lack of food, Chinook Salmon, pollution, and noise and disturbance from boats. 

The Southern Resident Killer Whales are found by the mouth of the Columbia River often during the spring feeding on returning spring Chinook salmon.

The sixth to eighth grade students from Portland’s Sunnyside K-8 environmental school are part of an Oceans class where Southern Resident Killer whales are part of this year’s curriculum. 

The students and their teachers met with cetacean and salmon biologists, Tribal representatives and the Endangered Species Coalition’s Pacific Northwest representative. 

While meeting with the Endangered Species Coalition’s staff member they asked questions about both the federal and state endangered species acts and how they could be advocates for these orcas.

They wrote their own testimony and coordinated amongst themselves on who would focus on different parts of the testimony.

As one environmental staffer said, there wasn’t one dry eye at the hearing after they finished

After testifying the students listened to another half hour of other speakers before heading back to their afternoon math class.

The Commissioners later decided to list the Southern Resident Killer Whales as endangered.

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4 comments on “Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales Get Love and Much Needed Help from Oregon Junior High School Students

  1. I want to be a part of this important group to help protect our precious wildlife from extinction. I have been involved in animal activism for many years and want to continue helping in any way I can.

  2. Thank you young people for listening to education about orcas and caring for these precious creatures. I like to think of all animal-kind as brothers and sisters. The earth needs all aspects of each ecology to be safely interacting and healthy. I hope you feel proud of yourselves and continue advocating for the orcas.

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