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The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals just lost a case in a federal appeals court to relocate Lolita the Orca from her captivity in a Miami-based amusement park.
Wilfredo Lee / AP

One of the last killer whales to be captured as part of Washington's whale trade will remain in captivity following a federal court ruling Tuesday, marking a major blow to a decades-long campaign to relocate Lolita the Orca.

NOAA Fisheries under NMFS research permit #19091.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca recovery task force has issued a draft report with possible recommendations. It's 53 pages long and contains about 50 detailed potential actions.

The public is invited to comment as the task force works to narrow their list before submitting it to the state Legislature.

Katy Foster / NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786-03.

Experts say they’re preparing a plan to capture and treat a sick, critically endangered orca if there is no way to save it in the wild.  They're preparing to rescue the animal known as J-50 if she separates from her family or gets stranded while alive.

An emaciated orca from the Pacific Northwest’s critically-endangered resident killer whale population could get a pole injection of medicine under the latest prefered option of an emergency response team. 

An emaciated, 4-year-old Pacific Northwest orca is drawing alarm.

NOAA Fisheries spokesman Michael Milstein said feeding live Chinook salmon to the female orca, possibly laced with medication, is being considered.

NOAA Fisheries/Vancouver Aquarium / via AP / File

A multitude of factors are harming Puget Sound’s local population of endangered orcas: water pollution, noise, loss of habitat.

But topping that list right now for many scientists is recovery of their primary food source: Chinook salmon.

The Pacific Northwest’s beloved orcas will not survive unless humans do more to ensure adequate food and cleaner, quieter waters. That was one of the messages at a crowded signing ceremony in Seattle convened by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Washington state officials have proposed a new tack to save the Pacific Northwest's critically endangered orca population. Their idea is to boost salmon hatchery production by 10 to 20 million more fish per year to provide more food for the iconic killer whales.

In Olympia, state lawmakers are considering stronger protections for the critically endangered population of resident killer whales.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

Despite a very bad summer for local resident orca whales, this winter is shaping up as a premium time to see them from the shore. Orca watchers say the Southern Residents seem to be foraging for chum salmon after finding less Chinook than usual this year.

NOAA Fisheries

Passions run high on the issue of how to best protect resident killer whales in the waters off the San Juan Islands.

A public comment period on a proposal that could help them ends Thursday.

Orca whales communicate underwater with complex calls that researchers say are a language all their own. And they use echolocation to find their way around.

Courtesy of the Center for Whale Research

Corrected on October 31, 2016 - An earlier version of this story incorrectly placed the Snake River dams in Idaho. They are in Southeast Washington.

Some of the top whale researchers in the Pacific Northwest are calling on the federal government to breach four dams on the Lower Snake River in Southeast Washington. They say that’s the surest way to restore the Chinook salmon runs that endangered orcas primarily feed on.

NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center via AP, File

Federal biologists have indefinitely suspended a satellite tagging program to track endangered orca whales. The move comes after an expert panel concluded a fungal infection contributed to the death of a 20-year-old member of the L pod.

The last few years have been rocky ones for SeaWorld. While other theme parks have prospered, SeaWorld's parks have seen attendance declines — in part because of public concerns about captive killer whales raised by the documentary Blackfish.

In March, SeaWorld agreed to end theatrical orca shows and its captive breeding program. Their Florida location is now adding new attractions and is hoping to lure visitors back with the area's tallest and fastest roller coaster.

In a major concession to critics and animal welfare groups, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Inc. says it will stop breeding captive killer whales.

SeaWorld's treatment of its killer whales, or orcas, was put in the spotlight three years ago by Blackfish, a documentary that examined the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed by an orca named Tilikum. Since then, in a steady campaign on social media, critics have demanded SeaWorld end its orca breeding program.

A Washington state senator says he will try again in January to convince his colleagues to ban marine mammal shows. That announcement Monday came as SeaWorld said it will end orca whale performances at its San Diego theme park next year.

Photo by David Ellifrit/ / Center for Whale Research

Keep your eyes peeled for killer whales. The orca pods that spend the summer in the San Juan Islands are expected to show up in Puget Sound any moment now. That’s according to the Orca Network, which tracks the killer whales via a network of volunteer spotters.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

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: 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Scientists studying southern resident killer whales for the past decade now know they are among the most contaminated marine mammals and prefer to eat Chinook salmon.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A federal agency is weighing whether to protect endangered orcas in the waters off the West Coast.

NOAA Fisheries said Thursday it would consider a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity seeking to expand the critical habitat for southern resident killer whales.

AP Photo/NOAA Fisheries Service, Candice Emmons

A conservation group is asking federal officials to protect endangered killer whales in the marine waters off the West Coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to designate critical habitat for orcas along the coast of Washington, Oregon and California.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Whale spotters say dozens of killer whales are still in Puget Sound where they have been seen by ferry passengers as well as people on shore.

Paula Wissel

When you think of going whale watching, you probably envision taking a boat. But there’s a place on San Juan Island that’s considered one of the best places in the world to see killer whales from shore.

chasedekker photo / Flickr

  The charismatic black and white killer whales that spend their summers in Puget Sound will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has rejected a call to de-list resident orcas. 

Kevin Klein

If you’ve ever gone fishing, then you probably know what it feels like to catch a big one only to lose it as you reel it in. A Friday Harbor man recently had this experience, but there’s much more to this whale of a tale.

Kevin Klein and his fishing companion were out on the water on July 13, in the deep waters of Harro Strait, between San Juan and Vancouver islands.  

They were on the hunt for a big King Salmon so they could take home the $5,000 prize for the Bellingham Salmon Derby.

They weren't out very long when they hooked what Klein calls “a very big fish.”