Orcas And Maury Island

Photo taken under ESA/MMPA permit no. 781-1824-01 M Sears 11-23-07

Endangered Orcas with newborn calf in tow at the Glacier dock site
November 23, 2007

The Endangered Orcas Use of Maury Island

  • The Orcas feed in the Maury nearshore during the late fall and early winter months when salmon at the Island is abundant and scarce elsewhere.
  • In December 2007, the Orcas were documented by the NMFS appointed sighting network in the waterways adjacent to Glacier’s proposed dock on more days than they were documented at the San Juan Island’s State whale watching park for the months of July and August combined.
  • A majority of Orca births occur during the late fall and early winter months and it is common that newborn and very young calves are in tow when the Orcas come to forage at Maury Island. As example, the newest member of J-pod was born in early November of 2007 and was documented at the Glacier site within days of its birth.

The Proposed Projects Risk to Endangered Orcas

  • In the Orca recovery plan NMFS notes lack of prey availability, elevated underwater noise and increased vessel interaction as impacts that are likely contributors to the whales population decline.
  • Dock construction and the subsequent barging operations will create underwater noise at levels that the National Marine Fisheries Services has determined to be harmful to Orcas and other Marine mammals.
  • Underwater noise levels associated with the proposed project will be high enough to mask the important Orca communication calls which the whales depend on for successful foraging.
  • At nearly 400 feet long, the dock itself is a physical barrier that may alter the Orcas foraging behavior and passage through the area.
  • The barging operation will introduce industrial shipping traffic into an area that currently has none. This protected reserve area is where the Orcas commonly forage and rest.
  • Orca researchers who have evaluated the proposed project have concluded that there is a strong likelihood that the Orcas will be forced to abandon this important feeding area due to underwater noise impacts.


This Mine Expansion Doesn’t Make any Sense

It Doesn’t Make Environmental Sense

It Doesn’t Make Economic Sense

It Doesn’t Make Sense For The People Of Washington State