Puget Sound orca | KNKX

Puget Sound orca

Associated Press

Two orca stories have been prominent in news in recent days: An endangered orca is still clinging to her dead calf more than two weeks after it died. And scientists are considering intervening to help a different young orca, known as J-50, which they fear is sick and near death. 

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.

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.

Wallie Funk / AP Photo

A well-known former resident of the Pacific Northwest will be getting special designation from the federal government. Lolita, a killer whale captured from Penn Cove off Whidbey Island, is now a member of an endangered species along with her wild cousins.

Lolita is the last known survivor of the many orcas captured from the Salish Sea in 1970. She has lived since then at the Miami Seaquarium. When Puget Sound orcas were later designated an endangered species, captive whales were excluded.

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.