NFWF Announces $ 971,000 in Conservation Grants for Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program


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SEATTLE, Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today announced $ 971,000 in grants to help stabilize and recover the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale population native to the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest. The grants will generate $ 951,000 in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of over $ 1.9 million.

The grants were awarded under the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program (KWRCP), a partnership between NFWF, NOAA Fisheries, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, SeaWorld Entertainment and BNSF Railway, with additional funding this year from the Marine Mammal Commission.

“Killer whales play a key role in the ecological and cultural fabric of the Pacific Northwest,” said Jeff Trandahl, Executive Director and CEO of NFWF. “Resident killer whale populations in the Pacific Northwest declined sharply in the early 1970s and have not recovered, even with increased management protection since then. As the KWRCP enters its sixth year, we are pleased to welcome BNSF Railway as a new financial partner. Along with our returning partners, we remain committed to helping these beautiful and highly intelligent creatures overcome the obstacles to recovery. ”

Projects supported by the seven grants announced today will address three categories of threats prioritized by the Governor of Washington’s Orca Task Force in 2018, including: (1) prey availability; (2) ship strikes; and (3) toxins and pollutants.

“We are a founding partner of KWRCP and the work funded by the program is essential to the recovery of the Southern Resident Killer Whale,” said Dr Chris Dold, Zoological Director of SeaWorld. “It is crucial that we learn all we can about these killer whales so that together we can ensure that they thrive without the threat of extinction.”

The survival of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population depends on the abundance and size of Chinook salmon and a variety of other fish that are their primary food source. The lack of available prey, in the quantity and size necessary to meet the nutritional needs of these killer whales, represents the most priority threat to the survival of the population. Previous research has identified the early survival of chinook salmon as a limiting factor, as juveniles experience high mortality as they migrate from their native streams to the Pacific Ocean to mature.

The seven grants announced today support projects designed to restore estuarine and riparian habitats that have been identified as barriers to re-establishing two priority chinook killer whale routes: the Nooksack River and Skagit River routes.

This year’s group of projects will also reduce impacts to killer whales from commercial and recreational vessels. Sounds and disturbances from large and small vessels further reduce the feeding success of killer whales due to stress or disturbance and echolocation “masking” that they use to hunt. The large number of boats in the area crossing the main shipping lanes to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma also contributes to concerns about pollution and ship strikes. The Orca task force has listed several recommendations for reaching out to the recreational, commercial and large-vessel industries to address these concerns and a new “Quiet Sound” initiative was recently created to begin to address them.

“This vital support from the NFWF and other partners is helping advance science and action on the ground such as restoring the habitat we need to protect and recover Southern Resident Killer Whales and the salmon they support. depend now and in the future, ”said Scott Rumsey, deputy regional administrator for the West Coast region of NOAA Fisheries. “At the same time, managing vessel traffic and noise helps ensure that whales can effectively hunt and find the salmon that are there. Only by working together across the landscape can we address the threats to this endangered population that is so important to the tribes, the region and this marine ecosystem. ”

The KWRCP supports efforts to increase understanding of management across all categories of threats. In 2021, the program continues to support research to fill critical knowledge gaps prioritized by management. The projects supported in this category aim to increase knowledge about the consumption of prey in order to inform the protection and recovery of salmon stocks which are in turn essential to the recovery of southern residents. They will also help unravel how noise and ship traffic reduce the feeding success of southerners to help identify and mitigate these impacts.

A full list of 2021 grants awarded through the KWRCP can be found here.

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

Accredited by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the country’s fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. In collaboration with federal, corporate and individual partners, the NFWF has funded more than 5,000 organizations and generated a conservation impact of $ 6.8 billion. Learn more at

About NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources and their habitat. We provide vital services to the nation: productive and sustainable fisheries, secure sources of seafood, the recovery and conservation of protected resources and healthy ecosystems, all supported by sound science and a management approach based on ecosystems. For more information, visit

About the US Fish and Wildlife Service

The US Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continued benefit of the American people. For more information, visit

About the Marine Mammal Commission

The Marine Mammal Commission is an independent, science-based monitoring body mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to promote the conservation of marine mammals and their environment. Learn more about our work at

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering experiences that matter and inspiring customers to protect the animals and wild wonders of our world. The Company is one of the most important zoological organizations in the world and a world leader in animal welfare, training, breeding and veterinary care. The company collectively cares about what it considers to be one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped advance animal care. The Society also saves and rehabilitates sick, injured, orphaned or abandoned marine and land animals, with the aim of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® Rescue Team has helped over 39,000 animals in need over the course of the company’s history. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands, including SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens®, Aquatica®, Sesame Place® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 60-year history, the company has built a diverse portfolio of 12 regional destinations and theme parks clustered in key markets across the United States, many of which feature its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks offer a diverse range of rides, shows and other attractions with a broad demographic appeal that provide memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its customers.


Rob Blumenthal
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(202) 857-0166
[email protected]

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Source: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation


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