Save the Southern Resident Orca & Wild Salmon

Photograph courtesy of:  Shane Russeck Photography

Hello, my name is Lanni Johnson.  I am a grandmother.  I live in Washington State. 

The orca in the above picture is Granny.  She was the matriarch of her clan, the Southern Resident Orcas, until she died in 2016.  Scientists believe she was in her 90's.  She was alive during the brutal live captures in Penn Cove, Whidbey Island, Washington, during the 1960's and 1970's which decimated her family.  I read that she was captured once, but was released because she was too big.  I also read that after those captures, Granny never again allowed her family to enter Penn Cove.  And finally, I have recently read that the scientists predict that if we do not act quickly, as in 2019, we will lose the rest of Granny's clan.

The Southern Resident Orca are many things to us.  They are the apex predators of the ocean.  They are the humans that live in the water.  They are an icon of our lives and our society and the Great Northwest!  They are a species to be admired and emulated.  And now they teeter on the brink of extinction, just like the Chinook Salmon that the Southern Residents require to live.  We will lose both the Chinook and the Orca if something isn't done quickly.  Time is of the essence.

I have been watching the Orca Task Force (OTF) deliberate, and I have been following the various news articles on their progress and the media comments from the decision makers.  There has been little to no progress toward doing what it will take to save the salmon and the orca.

It has become clear to me that the OTF and the decision makers do not fully appreciate how very close to lost these two iconic species are, and it has become clear to me that the politicians and other authorities are going to stand by and allow the Southern Resident Orca and the wild salmon runs of the Snake River to go extinct.  While the Orca are starving, the Chinook are dying on the four dams on the Lower Snake River.  These are dams whose costs outweigh their benefits.

In order to bring attention and resolution to this situation, I am going to stage a fast in sympathy with the starving whales.

I am requesting that Governor Inslee, Senator Cantwell, Senator Murray, Representative Del Bene and others in authority support the US Army Corps of Engineers implementing Alternative 4 of the 2002 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and begin breaching the Lower Snake River dams in 2019.  Each obsolete and expensive dam kills two million baby salmon every year.  Breaching the dams is the quickest and the surest chance we have at saving the wild salmon and the orca. 

You see, the work of the OTF was actually done back in 2002, when the EIS was researched and written at a cost of several million dollars , but everyone is pretending that it doesn't exist!

The fast will begin on Monday, April 1, 2019, on the steps of the State Capitol in Olympia, and is planned to last for 17 days, to recognize and honor the 17 days that Tahlequah (J35) carried her dead baby last summer.

Because I will be fasting and because I live so far from Olympia, it will be necessary for me to rent a room in the area and there will be other incidental expenses, so I am asking for financial help in this effort.

Thank you.

Sam Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington: “There is no question the whales are starving … and the dams are impacting them at a critical place and time…”

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  • Andrea Lonseth  
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Lanni Johnson 
Snohomish, WA
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