The Southern Resident killer whales are fish specialists, and while they can eat a variety of fish, the majority of their diet is salmon, primarily Chinook as it is the fattiest and largest, and so provides the best bang for the buck.

This unique community of whales has evolved side-by-side with wild Pacific Chinook in the Pacific Northwest, and is completely distinct from the Bigg’s killer whales that travel through the same waters, but feed on marine mammals. As such, the culture of the Southern Resident killer whales, an indigenous population, is completely built around salmon. They are not going to suddenly switch to eating marine mammals, no matter how convenient that might be for some who wish they would! In geological time, the changes humans have inflicted on our wildlife and ecosystems in the last century have occurred in the blink of an eye, and long-lived mammals like killer whales cannot evolve at this pace. This extended family of whales is quite simply destined for extinction without an adequate supply of wild Chinook salmon.