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This Is What Puget Sound Orcas Sound Like When They Talk To Each Other

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
An endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, as seen Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 from a federal research vessel.

Ever hear an orca speak? Ken Balcomb, who many regard as the godfather of whale conservation, captured their chatter using a hydrophone on San Juan Island: 

Orcas have been making headlines this week after federal researchers released the results of a 10-year study that found killer whales are among the most contaminated marine mammals.

Balcomb, director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, says the key to saving the endangered orcas is to focus on their diminishing food source. The study found the orcas' diet consists of chinook salmon, another endangered species.

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Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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