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Washington state approves orca buffer zone

Industry News, News | April 27, 2023 | By:

The Washington State Senate approved a bill that requires boats to stay a minimum of 1,000 yards from southern resident orcas in Washington waters. Senate Bill 5731 awaits Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature, according to a report by The Seattle Times.

Currently, boats must stay 400 yards from the whales, but a January 2021 study showed that female southern resident orcas stop hunting when boats are within 400 yards. According to The Seattle Times story, two-thirds of southern resident orca pregnancies end in loss because of a lack of food. There are 73 southern resident orcas in existence. The legislation would not change regulations for approaching healthier populations, such as Bigg’s killer whales, humpback whales, gray whales or other whale species in the area.

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