Killer whales, also known as orcas, are perhaps the most widely recognized type of whale in the world. With their distinctive black-and-white coloring, tall dorsal fins and reputation as top predators, most people know what an orca is and how they live — or do they? There is a lot more happening beneath the waves than first meets the eye.
The MidCoast Watersheds Council invites the public to attend a presentation by Colleen Weiler, “Orcas of the Oregon Coast,” at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, in the second floor meeting room at the Newport Visual Arts Center, 777 NW Beach Dr.
Orcas aren’t just the “wolves of the sea,” they live in incredibly close family groups, have lifespans similar to humans and are one of the best examples of culture in non-human society. The critically endangered Southern Resident orca community, a unique population that lives off the west coast of the U.S. and Canada, faces threats from fundamental changes to their ecosystem, most vitally the decline of salmon throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada. How are these orcas connected to Oregon, and why are healthy rivers and watersheds essential for their continued survival?
Weiler is the Rekos Fellow for Orca Conservation at Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC). Her work is to identify effective conservation strategies and protective measures for orca populations around the world, primarily focused on orca populations of the Eastern North Pacific and especially the critically endangered Southern Resident orca community. WDC works globally through campaigns, lobbying, advising governments, conservation and field projects, educational outreach, legal advocacy and more to develop science-based, ecosystem-wide solutions for protection and recovery of orcas.
Weiler earned a master’s degree in Marine Resource Management from Oregon State University and has been active in the marine mammal field for more than a decade in a variety of roles, from rescue and rehabilitation to fieldwork, policy and conservation. She has lived and worked in Oregon for 11 years, after giving up on ever seeing a whale in the Great Lakes of her home state of Michigan.
A MidCoast Watersheds Council Board meeting will follow the presentation and refreshment break.