Connecting Orca Science, Policy, and the Community: NOAA’s New Southern Resident Connections Blog

Sarah Fesenmyer and Michael Milstein of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration share a new blog series called “Southern Resident Connections.” The blog aims to connect the public with new and exciting research on the endangered Southern Resident killer whales and ways everyone can be involved. Hear about inspiring habitat restoration projects, microplastics found in killer whale poop, which salmon the whales are eating, how fishing seasons are being determined right now – and how you can make your voice heard.

Learn more about the podcast! Read the Southern Resident Connections blog. View NOAA’s brochure about Taking Action for Southern Resident Killer Whales here. Learn more about the upcoming Aug. 3-4 Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) Ad Hoc Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup meeting. View the referenced Risk Assessment.

Subscribe to video podcasts on YouTube and at iTunes and take us everywhere you go!

Orca Month Book Club Recap Discussion with Colleen Weiler and Whitney Neugebauer

Whitney and Colleen Discuss these three books and share stories

Following interviews with the authors of Orca: The Whale Called Killer, Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught us, and Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents, your Orca Month Book Club co-hosts Whitney Neugebauer and Colleen Weiler discuss all three books. They compare notes, offer insights and personal experiences, and share hope for the future. Dive into your next whale adventure through the pages of these books while you’re safe at home.

Stay tuned for community discussions online throughout the summer. We’ll get started in July with Orca: The Whale Called Killer, August with Listening to Whales, What the Orcas Have Taught Us, and in September, Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents.

Watch author interviews on the Whale Scout YouTube channel.

Learn more about Orca Month which has gone virtual this year!

Stay informed about orca and salmon issues with Whale Scout and WDC!

Orca Month Book Club with Monika Wieland Shields, author of Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents

Learn more from Monika Wieland Shields as she discusses her book, Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents. This in-depth book takes a deep dive into the history of our interactions with Southern Resident killer whales, their biology, and current threats to their survival. Perfect for the beginner just dipping their toes into the world of orcas or the experienced naturalist, each section of the book offers the reader a clear understanding of orca research and science.

In the interview Whitney Neugebauer, Whale Scout, and Colleen Weiler, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, explore acoustic research, politics, and Monika’s current work as Founder of Orca Behavior Institute.

This is the third book of three in the Orca Month Book Club. Check out other interviews with Erich Hoyt, author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer and Alexandra Morton, author of Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us.

To learn more about Monika Wieland Shield’s research visit

For her blog, visit

Buy the book at a local retailer or IndieBound or Amazon.

Like what you see? Learn more about Orca Month and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

Orca Month Book Club Interview with Alexandra Morton, Author of Listening to Whales

Hear from Alexandra Morton, author of Listening to Whales: What the Orcas Have Taught Us. The book chronicles her life and the story of raising a young family following Northern Resident orcas in British Columbia. Beginning studying dolphin communication, then the captive killer whale Corky, and finally Corky’s family in the wild, Alexandra Morton weaves her scientific research and storytelling together in a beautiful book. This is a powerful book for any orca lover.

In the interview Whitney Neugebauer, Whale Scout, and Colleen Weiler, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, explore themes of captivity, motherhood, and conservation. Alexandra Morton also discuss current issues related to salmon farming in British Columbia and teases a new book in the works!

This is the second book of three in the Orca Month Book Club. Check out other interviews Erich Hoyt, author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer at and Monika Wieland Shields, author of Endangered Orcas: The Story of The Southern Residents to be posted June 21st, 2020.

To learn more about Alexandra Morton’s work visit Buy the book on Amazon.

To learn more about Orca Month visit

For more from Whale and Dolphin Conservation go to

Orca Month Book Club with Erich Hoyt, author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer

Celebrating virtual Orca Month, join the Orca Month Book Club! Read three great orca books: Orca: The Whale Called Killer by Erich Hoyt, Listening to Whales, What the Orcas Have Taught Us by Alexandra Morton, and Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents by Monika Wieland Shields. To jump start your reading, Colleen Weiler of Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Whitney Neugebauer of Whale Scout interview the authors. Join us each Sunday in June for a new discussion.

This interview features Erich Hoyt, author of Orca: The Whale Called Killer. Journey into the world of Northern Resident killer whales in British Columbia in the 1970’s when little was known about these magnificent animals. Brought along on a film crew as the “sound guy,” Hoyt experimented with playing sounds for the whales. The book explores his experiences with the whales and the importance of the habitat where they thrive. Now in it’s fifth edition, this book is considered a “must read” for anyone interested in orcas in the Pacific Northwest.

Be sure to subscribe on YouTube for more Orca Month Book Club episodes: June 14th – Listening to Whales, What the Orcas Have Taught Us by Alexandra Morton June 21st – Endangered Orcas: The Story of the Southern Residents by Monika Wieland Shields June 28th – Discussion between Colleen and Whitney about all three books

Later summer we invite you to join us for community conversations online. Dates are TBD.

For more Orca Month events and information, visit the Orca Month website. Learn more about Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Erich Hoyt on his website, the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP), and buy the book on Amazon.

Do-it-yourself walk-a-thon for the whales. Join Ariel Yseth’s Summer Salmon Run!

Looking for a way to help the whales AND stay in shape at home this summer? Join Ariel Yseth’s Summer Salmon Run! Choose an orca or salmon-related group to support and start your own run or walk-a-thon. This new effort is modeled after Ariel’s past fundraisers where she’s raised over $1,000 to run 365 miles in 365 days. Listen to learn more about how to get started and stay connected on Facebook. Plus, we learn much more about Ariel, our very own podcast producer, newsletter and communications lead, and naturalist. She shares about leaving the mid-west to journey closer to the whales in the PNW, fighting a chronic illness, visiting the house featured in the Free Willy films, and more!

Orca Conservation Kits Delivered to Your Door!

While we stay safe at home, there are still so many ways to help recover endangered orcas. Whale Scout is offering free Orca Conservation Kits safely delivered right to your door celebrating Orca Action Month. Kits include native shrubs to plant in your yard and information and activities connecting these plants to salmon and orcas for the whole family – all in a reusable shopping bag!

Puget Sound watersheds connect all of us to endangered killer whales. The rain that falls in our yards seeps into streams where salmon flow into Puget Sound as orca food. Maintaining the natural processes that keep these waters clean is both important for salmon and orcas. From the tree tops to the tips of the whales’s flukes, everything is connected.

How do I get a kit? Please submit this request form by June 17th. Kits will be delivered between June 22nd and 26th.

What’s in the kit? Native plant choices – Indian Plum, Red Flowering Currant, and Douglas Fir. Click the links above to learn more about each plant.

Tucked neatly into the front pocket is a packet tailored to your household with a salmon friendly gardening guide, natural yard care tips, orca stewardship brochures and information including a Whale Scout button. We’ll also include activities for kids – screen-free!

Who can get a kit? Anyone living in the urban Puget Sound area within our delivery area and is willing to follow the requests listed below.

1. Please thoughtfully consider which plants will be the right fit for your garden or yard. King County has a helpful Native Plant Guide for Western Washington Yards.

2. Commit to attend at least one in-person salmon habitat restoration event when it is safe to do so. Visit for ideas near you.

3. Send us a photo of your plant once it’s home to add to our “virtual forest.”

How will kits be delivered? Volunteers will deliver kits to their local neighborhoods wearing a mask: Eligible delivery addresses: Bellevue, Bothell, Brier, Burien, Carnation, Des Moines, Edmonds, Everett, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kenmore, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lynwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Olympia, Redmond, Renton, Seattle, Sammamish, SeaTac, Shelton, Shoreline, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, West Seattle, Woodinville, and Woodway. Don’t see your location? Email us to see if we accidentally missed your neighborhood.

When will kits be delivered? We anticipate kits will be delivered the week of June 22nd, 2020.

This program is generously supported by The Nature Conservancy in Washington’s Urban Tree Canopy Project. To learn more about orcas and Orca Month go to

Internship Opportunities for Summer 2020

Whale Scout, a nonprofit organization based in King County, Washington is looking for summer interns to assist with salmon habitat restoration, riparian research and monitoring, and outreach/educational activities. Dedicated to protecting Pacific Northwest whales through land-based conservation experiences, Whale Scout takes a boots-on-the-ground approach to recovering endangered Southern Resident killer whales and the salmon they rely upon. This internship will offer the opportunity to learn about killer whales, salmon habitat, native vegetation, communication, community building, and non-profit organizational management. It will offer those 17 and older field experience and opportunities educating the public including diverse families. The internship may also include opportunities to participate in day trips to San Juan Island and local Puget Sound beaches to facilitate educational land-based whale watching opportunities. Activities will be adjusted to comply with all COVID-19 guidelines. Two positions are available lasting 12 weeks with a $1,000 stipend to cover travel and associated expenses. Applications are due June 8th, 2020.

Description of Responsibilities

Summer watering, weeding, maintenance, and monitoring of newly planted native vegetation at restoration sites within King County

Development of a riparian monitoring project at our Bear Creek site

Outreach performing educational activities working with kids and families in King County as health guidelines permit 

Compiling and delivering Orca Conservation Kits throughout the Puget Sound region and King County

Land-based whale watching with the public at Puget Sound beaches and possibly day trips to San Juan Island (3-5) as part of the San Juan Island Naturalist Program if health guidelines permit

Data entry and some administrative tasks

Independent reading, learning and research

Capstone project of the interns choice which may include a paper, presentation, or video, etc. 


$1,000 stipend to cover the cost of travel and associated expenses

Continuing educational opportunities 

Networking opportunities 

Experience working with diverse communities

Experience with salmon habitat restoration 

Upon successful completion of internship a letter of recommendation for future positions

Desired start date 

June 15th, 2020


Applications due: June 8th

Interviews: June 11th and 12th via ZOOM

Internship June 15 – September 4th 2020


Commitment 20 hours per week (approx). 

Schedule will vary and include some weekends

Skills and Qualifications 

Computer skills – use of Google products such as Google calendar, Google docs, Google sheets and Zoom. Must have access to a computer/internet/email regularly

Be able to lift 40 lbs

Interest in teaching a diverse group of students both in and out of the classroom.

Proven personal initiative and ability to multitask, prioritize, use good judgement, problem solve, and work effectively both independently and as a team in a fast-paced environment.

Ability to hike several miles and serve outdoors in all weather conditions.

Demonstrated written and oral communication skills and detail-oriented organizational skills.

Must be at least 17 years old on first day of internship

Must provide personal transportation to sites across King County and Anacortes, Wa. Travel to south Puget Sound and Mount Vernon for field trips may be possible.

Must possess a valid driver’s license

Must successfully pass a criminal history background check.

Must be a U.S. citizen, national or lawful permanent resident alien.

Willingness to store teaching some teaching materials at home.

Some basic knowledge of Pacific Northwest ecosystems, flora and fauna.

Willingness to learn more about the threats and science regarding Southern Resident killer whales

Housing not provided.

Apply by June 8th, 2020 For questions, please email

This project is funded in part by the King County Wastewater Treatment Division. Funding also provided by the Seattle Aquarium’s Youth Ocean Advocates

A Group Sues the Government Over Alaskan Fisheries Impacting Endangered Orcas

The Wild Fish Conservancy’s Kurt Beardslee and Wild Orca’s Deborah Giles join the podcast to discuss salmon fisheries in Southeast Alaska. Wild Fish Conservancy has worked to halt the fishery in court to protect endangered Southern Resident killer whales and salmon populations. Deborah Giles breaks down how important these fish are to killer whales often sighted in Washington State. Learn more about the issues at and

Check out our YouTube channel for the video podcast here!

Dr. Holly Fearnbach – studying body condition of whales using overhead photos

Some of the most insightful and vital new scientific research is also the least invasive. Researchers such as Dr. Holly Fearnbach are able to use advancing drone technologies to take photos of whales and measure their health over time. Learn more from SR3 on their blog including a recent encounter with J pod in March 2020, where they reported the whales looked to be in “decent condition.” Learn more about the local Puget Sound Gray whales, which are also being studied from Cascadia Research Collective in their recent report. Gray whales in the Pacific have been suffering from an “unusual mortality event” in recent years, hear Dr. Holly Fearnbach’s thoughts on what might be happening.