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500K Chinook smolt released into Salish Sea to help feed killer whales

Half a million healthy juvenile Chinook salmon were released into the Salish Sea as part of the South Vancouver Island Anglers Coalition (SVIAC) and the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA)'s "Feeding Our Endangered Orcas Initiative." The fish were delivered to Sooke, B.C.

This multi-year program is intended to significantly increase large adult Chinook salmon in the Juan de Fuca Strait during the key pre-winter feeding time of local killer whales.

The Southern Resident Killer Whales - J, K and L pods are endangered. Lack of food is one of the issues believed responsible for their declining numbers. Pollutants and noise from vessels are other top reasons for their decline according to NOAA.

Last year 225,000 healthy Chinook salmon smolts were successfully released from their temporary holding enclosure in the Sooke Basin and are expected to return as large adults in 2020.

In the future, increased quantities of Chinook smolts will be out planted each spring working towards an annual target of 2,000,000 smolts per year.

“Once again local anglers, whale watchers and many local businesses are coming together to help our endangered orcas in year two of this very worthwhile initiative. Come and see all the healthy little Chinook salmon for yourself!” said Christopher Bos, president of SVIAC on today’s release.

“The Pacific Whale Watching Association continues to support initiatives that address the availability of large Chinook, the preferred food of SRKW. 500,000 Chinook smolts for this initiative in Sooke is indeed good news,” said Dan Kukat, owner of Springtide Whale Watching and Eco Tours, past president of the Pacific Whale Watching Association and major project sponsor.

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