LOCAL NEWS

Big ships in North Puget Sound asked to slow down for orcas

Oct 18, 2022, 6:40 AM | Updated: 7:04 am
FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas swim in Puget Sound and in view of the O...

FILE - In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, endangered orcas swim in Puget Sound and in view of the Olympic Mountains just west of Seattle, as seen from a federal research vessel that has been tracking the whales. A federal court ruling this week has thrown into doubt the future of a valuable commercial king salmon fishery in Southeast Alaska, after a conservation group challenged the government's approval of the harvest as a threat to protected fish and the endangered killer whales that eat them. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Big ships entering and leaving Puget Sound will be asked to slow down to reduce underwater noise this fall in an effort to help the Pacific Northwest’s critically endangered orcas.

Washington state is importing the voluntary slowdown from British Columbia for container ships, tankers, freighters, cruise ships and car carriers coming from the Canadian province, Northwest News Network reported.

The slowdown is scheduled to run from Oct. 24 to Dec. 22 and covers the shipping lanes from Admiralty Inlet by Port Townsend south to Kingston and Mukilteo.

“When large vessels slow their speed they reduce the amount of underwater noise they create and less underwater noise means better habitat for the endangered Southern Resident killer whales,” said Rachel Aronson, the program director of Quiet Sound, which is a relatively new, government-funded outfit that organized the slowdown trial.

Aronson said for most the request would be a 30% to 50% slowdown over 20 nautical miles. She estimated that participating might add between 10 minutes to an hour of ships’ travel time, depending on their usual speed.

Aronson said the time period and geographic area for the trial slowdown were chosen because the orcas travel into inland Puget Sound during that time to chase salmon runs.

The population of resident killer whales in the waters of the Pacific Northwest and southwestern British Columbia has declined to 73 individuals. Orcas primarily use sound — including echolocation — to hunt for food, orient and communicate. Ship noise can mask the whale calls, effectively blinding the mammals.

Canadian and American government agencies have identified physical and acoustic disturbance as one of the key threats to survival of the fish-eating killer whales, along with lack of prey and water pollution.

Aronson said a key constituency to win over were the Puget Sound Pilots, who board foreign ships and guide them in and out of Puget Sound ports.

“We’re supportive of the initiative and are interested to see whether the measures benefit the whales,” said Puget Sound Pilots executive director Charles Costanzo. “We plan to notify these piloted vessels of the suggested slowdown and ensure that ships are aware of the expectations when encountering whales.”

Local News

antisemitism...
Nicole Jennings

WA seeing major rise in antisemitism amidst hateful celebrity rhetoric

Acts of antisemitism are on the rise in Washington, with this year set to reach an all-time high in number of acts of hate against the Jewish community.
18 hours ago
Seattle likes Taylor Swift songs...
Micki Gamez

Seattle’s most downloaded songs and artists may surprise you

Newly released Spotify data says Taylor Swift is Seattle's most downloaded and listened to artist of the year 2022.
2 days ago
Stevens Pass skiing...
Heather Bosch

Stevens Pass vows to do better during this ski and snowboard season

The Stevens Pass Ski resort is open and it's under pressure to show skiers and snowboarders it has changed for the better.
2 days ago
Sunken ship Pacific...
Feliks Banel

Sunken ship lost 150 years ago, found off WA coast

The wreck of a sunken ship off the coast of Washington nearly 150 years ago has been found by a pair of maritime historians.
2 days ago
Puget Sound snow...
Bill Kaczaraba

Some snow into the Puget Sound region overnight

Friday snow is always a little bit different than Monday through Thursday snow. Friday snow is generally part of the holiday wonder.
2 days ago
human caused...
L.B. Gilbert

Small Business Administration offers disaster relief after Bolt Creek Fire

The SBA announced Thursday that they would be offering disaster relief loans to businesses impacted by the Bolt Creek Fire.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Big ships in North Puget Sound asked to slow down for orcas