Help Our Orcas

Our beloved Southern Resident Killer Whales, or orcas, are critically endangered – with fewer than 80 members left making up three pods: J, K and L. Due to declines in their primary food source, chinook salmon, these orcas are slowly starving to death. They are also dealing with noise from ship traffic and toxic pollution from run-off.

Here’s how you can help.

Are you a Ballard Chef?

You can make a big difference to our ailing orca population by taking Chinook (aka King) salmon off your menu. Our resident orcas eat one thing: Chinook/King salmon. And they are starving. We, on the other hand, have plenty of food choices! Learn more about the plight of the Southern Residents, and then join the growing number of Seattle’s culinary leaders who are taking bold actions, like Chef Renee Erickson and PCC Market.

…Not a Chef? No problem! Here are 5 ways you can help our orcas every day: 

1. Don’t Eat Chinook (aka King) Salmon. 

Our resident orcas eat one thing: Chinook/King Salmon.  And they are starving.  We, on the other hand, have lots of food choices!  So for starters, you can decide to stop buying and eating Chinook/King Salmon.  And tell your friends!  You can also ask restaurants in your neighborhood to take Chinook/King Salmon off their menus – following the example of chef Renee Erickson, and also PCC Market.

2. Avoid Chemicals – Use Greener Cleaners!

Use only nontoxic, biodegradable household cleaning and personal care products to keep chemicals from washing down your drain and into our waterways.  Better still, make your own!  Check out this handy page of recipes for Greener Cleaners and Personal Care Products.

3. Walk, Bike, and Use Public Transportation.

Getting around by any means besides CARS is better for the environment in many ways.  Of concern for orca health, leaks from vehicles are a huge polluter of Puget Sound. Leaks, whether oil or anti-freeze or transmission fluid, end up on roads, parking lots, and driveways….and when it rains, the pollutants get washed into creeks and streams that flow into Puget Sound. This toxic mix can kill certain salmon species very quickly and impact spawning in other species.  So don’t drive, and if you do – Don’t Drip and Drive!  Fix that leak:

4. Advocate for Orcas – Join a Sound Advocate Pod! 

Advocate for Orcas – join a Sound Advocate Pod in your community!  Washington Environmental Council is organizing Sound Advocate Pods all around the Salish Sea. WEC will provide citizen advocacy tips and guidance to help build your skills to be an effective voice, and offer opportunities for your engagement.

Sound Advocate Pods will be invited to engage at critical moments at public forums, in the legislature, with local elected officials, and in the media. Public support and involvement will be very important to advance the recommendations made to the Governor by the Orca Recovery Task Force.  Sign up online at

5. Get RainWise – Rain Gardens and Cisterns Reduce Polluted Stormwater Runoff. 

The biggest source of pollution in Puget Sound is stormwater runoff – and orcas are some of the most polluted marine mammals on Earth. By installing rain gardens and/or cistern(s), you can help reduce stormwater runoff by managing the rain that falls on your roof or driveway at home. And if you live in a RainWise-rebate-eligible basin (like much of Ballard), up to 100% of the cost will be covered by the City or County!  Visit for all the details.  The Orcas will thank you!

Questions? Email us to learn more. 

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