Orcas vs. sea lions vs. fishermen, et al

An old friend (a vegan) is angry that it will be legal to kill sea lions here, the reason being that sea lions are eating salmon that orcas depend on to survive. We have about 75 resident orcas, and they are not doing well. I told her I’d choose orcas over sea lions every time.

She blames the entire situation on greedy fishermen. It’s true that Chinook salmon, the resident orca’s primary food source, is being overfished. But there are other factors. Dams restrict the salmons’ access to their breeding streams. Sea lions prey on the salmon while they are bunched up at the dams. Fewer salmon returning upstream means few salmon are hatched, which means less food for the orcas. Not to mention the pollutants in the water. She suggested tearing down the dams. The Elwah Dam has already been demolished, and I think there are two more scheduled to be taken out. I think that’s a good thing. On the other hand, Washington leads the nation in clean energy because of its hydroelectric plants. Get rid of all of the dams, and we’ll have to burn coal.

Meanwhile, the orcas are declining. While commercial fishing may be curtailed, we can’t just wave a magic wand and get rid of dams, pollutants, and the sea lions that prey upon the orca’s food supply. Killing sea lions won’t solve the problem, but it may help some salmon runs from becoming extinct.

I choose orcas over sea lions. Do you agree, or disagree?

Are the orcas LEGAL residents? (kidding)

The orcas don’t eat the sea lions?

No, the resident orcas are fish-eaters (2010). Secondary citation (2008).

I’d get rid of whichever of the three et Al.

Thanks, I didn’t know about diet specialization between orca communities like that.

People who don’t live here often don’t. I know I didn’t before I relocated. From this page [emphasis mine]:

The whales don’t just start eating anything? Or they just die if there is not enough salmon, or something else?

Or what should we do if we see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant? Personally, I would ignore the vegan, and favor the meat eaters. If the only problem is the lack of fish for the meat eaters to eat, there are many successful breeding programs for salmonoid/salmonidae. The Great Lakes are annually stocked with Coho, Chinook, and Steelhead.

OTOH, there are people who object to fish farming.

They are “primarily” fish-eaters when there is an abundance of fish to dine on. Remove the fish feast, and orcas will find another primary food source, or move on to better feeding grounds.

It seems the resident orcas evolved over thousands of years to depend upon Chinook salmon. My friend wondered, ‘Why don’t they just eat sea lions?’ I don’t know the answer to that, other than they learned to eat fish, and fish is what they eat. Eating something else does not appear to be one of their survival strategies, as the declining numbers indicate.

The first citation is a chart that shows only fish. The second one says ‘Southern residents are fish-eating orcas’. Where are you reading ‘primarily’, specifically in regards to the resident orcas?

It doesn’t appear this is true. Without sufficient Chinooks, the Puget Sound orcas are dying off.

On the internet, of course. Orca will feed on fish, birds, and mammals.

*Killer whales have a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in particular types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals such as seals and other species of dolphin. They have been known to attack baleen whale calves, and even adult whales. Killer whales are apex predators, as no animal preys on them.

…Killer whales are apex predators, meaning that they themselves have no natural predators. They are sometimes called the wolves of the sea, because they hunt in groups like wolf packs.[93] Killer whales hunt varied prey including fish, cephalopods, mammals, sea birds, and sea turtles.[94] Different populations or ecotypes may specialize, and some can have a dramatic impact on prey species.

…Killer whales have also been observed preying on terrestrial mammals, such as deer swimming between islands off the northwest coast of North America.*


fyi - What I actually said was, “They are “primarily” fish-eaters when there is an abundance of fish to dine on”.

Go back and read post #6:

Then go back and read your own post:

The resident orca population are fish-eaters.

According to your own quote in post #6 -
Resident killer whales, inhabiting eastern North Pacific waters, feed primarily on salmon, particularly chinook salmon or king salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha).

You asked me, "Where are you reading ‘primarily’, specifically in regards to the resident orcas? " Another answer would be your #6 post.

Are you claiming that orca will not leave an area that is lacking in food for an area that has abundant food? Are you claiming that emaciated carcasses of orca are washing up on any shores? Orca appear to be adaptable. Especially if they are starving.

Which does not mean they eat mammals. They feed primarily on salmon. Not all fish are salmon. Can you provide a citation that Southern Resident Orcas eat mammals?

These are Southern Resident Orcas. Recently they have been spotted as far south as central California and as far north as near Prince Rupert, BC. But for those recent exceptions, they stay in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and southern Georgia Strait.

And yes, there are emaciated orcas in Puget Sound

Perhaps the orcas in Texas (that’s where you are, isn’t it?) eat sea lions; but up here, they don’t.

In any case, it’s not what the orcas can do, or what they should do; it’s what they do do. And what they do do is eat salmon. Salmon whose populations are being decimated by overfishing, sea lions, dams, and pollution.

So back to the gist of the OP: Does anyone have a problem with shooting sea lions that are eating salmon the orcas depend on?

They shoot horses, don’t they?

I’d be okay, if “they” really can establish that it would save some Orcas. I can see them killing a whole lot of sea lions and there still not being enough salmon.

Why shoot the sea lions when there is the option of restocking salmon?

They’ve started shooting sea lions that have come up the Willamette as far as the falls in Oregon City because they impact fishery release salmon, human fishing AND orcas. They shoot 'em at North Bonneville dam too, those little buggers have figured out it’s much easier and no competition to just jaunt a ways up the rivers to hang out at the fish ladder buffet.