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Orca Recovery Day 2021 - A Whale Sized Success For Our Orcas And Salmon!

All Orca Recovery Day 2021 Volunteers with their arms up

Three junior Orcas swimming the Puget Sound offer hesitant hope to all who care about this iconic species. However, like many before them, their future depends on clean water, a sustained food source of salmon, and community care and stewardship of our watersheds. Whatcom Conservation District, in partnership with Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) and Whatcom Land Trust joined 45 other organizations across the Pacific Northwest on October 16th for the 4th Annual Orca Recovery Day. This regional day of action focuses on improving conditions for our critically endangered Southern Resident Orca Whales and to serve as a catalyst for motivating continued action in our daily lives. Saturday, October 16th was a wet and blustery fall morning. Regardless 35 volunteers planted, put protective tubes on over 200 native plants, and removed invasive species in the California Creek Estuary!

Volunteer planting native plants

Marine estuaries such as California Creek are crucial to protect, as they provide important habitat and help to protect water quality. The sub basin of California Creek makes up 40% of the Drayton Harbor watershed, which means this is a huge opportunity to impact and improve water quality in this watershed. Coastal wetlands help support a myriad of species, including Orca whales, salmon, shorebirds, and many more.

Planting native plants and removing invasive species next to waterways is important for helping to protect and restore salmon habitat. Salmon require shade over streams, so that they do not get too warm. Native plants also help filter pollutants from rain run-off before they reach our water. Pollutants and salmon shortages are two of the three largest threats to Southern Resident Orcas.

Recovery for the Southern Resident Orcas will take a coordinated and ongoing effort by all who reside in watersheds that provide habitat for the orca's primary food source: Chinook salmon. That is why Whatcom Orca Recovery Day focused on restoring salmon habitat along California Creek on land managed by the Whatcom Land Trust.

Volunteer posing with pool toy orca

The work performed by volunteers at Orca Recovery Day helps to make a difference in improving conditions for our endangered Southern Resident Orca Whales. However, orca recovery doesn’t stop at Orca Recovery Day. There is strength in numbers if we all contribute to Orca recovery! Check out the actions you can take every day to help Orcas at

If you are looking for more salmon restoration work parties to attend, Whatcom CD and NSEA are teaming up again, along with Birch Bay Watershed & Aquatic Resources Management District (BBWARM), on November 6th to help restore salmon habitat along Terrell Creek. Join our November 6th Terrell Creek Work Party to help salmon and help Orcas!

Our celebration of salmon continues on November 13th with our Haynie Creek Salmon Sighting Event. You can join NSEA naturalists and learn more about salmon and their habitat, while celebrating this iconic species of the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you to all our generous 2021 Orca Recovery Day sponsors: Better Ground, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, and Puget Sound Energy.

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