Southern Resident killer whales primarily eat Chinook salmon. Chinook, also known as King Salmon, is the largest of the Pacific salmon, with the highest fat content and therefore has the highest calorie count essential for supporting the health of these large mammals, that need to consume 20 full-bodied salmon per day to survive.

These whales fish for Chinook salmon up and down the Pacific Coast from Monterey, California into British Columbia, Canada. Unfortunately, wild Chinook salmon has been overfished for decades in Washington, Oregon, and California, and its habitat has been severely altered by dams, logging, and pollution. And so like the whales, some wild Chinook salmon populations are also threatened with extinction.

There are many consumer guides to choosing ocean-friendly seafood. Some give a green light to eating Chinook salmon, especially from Alaska. However, we know that Chinook salmon is a wide-ranging species, and will travel thousands of miles in the Pacific Ocean. Studies by the Pacific Salmon Commission show that Chinook salmon originating in streams and rivers in the lower 48, may be caught in the Southeast Alaska Chinook fishery. This, of course, prevents these individuals from returning to their river of origin and replenishing salmon from these rivers. And also reduces the salmon populations traveling through the Salish Sea, vital spring and summer fishing grounds of the Southern Resident killer whales.

For these reasons, we suggest you find an alternative to Chinook salmon until such times as wild populations are restored and sustainable. For now, let’s Leave Wild Chinook For Wild Orcas.

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