Open to the Public
The waters of Washington State are critical habitat for the endangered southern resident killer whales. Only 73 of these whales remain in the wild.
Quiet Sound: Reducing the Impacts to Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales from Commercial Shipping
Speaker: Rachel Aronson, Quiet Sound Program Director, Washington Maritime Blue
Thursday, September 14, 2023
6:00pm to 7:00pm Pacific Time
Online via Zoom (details below)
About the Topic
The waters of Washington State are critical habitat for the endangered southern resident killer whales. Only 73 of these whales remain in the wild. These killer whales swim, rest and forage for fish in these waters. Underwater noise is identified by Canada and the United States as one of the main threats to southern resident killer whales due to its interference with their ability to hunt, navigate, and communicate.
The Quiet Sound program was created with the goal of reducing the acoustic impacts of large commercial vessels on these endangered whales in Washington. To do this, a coalition of federal, state, tribal, port, maritime industry, scientist, and NGO representatives developed several strategies, such as a trial voluntary slowdown in Admiralty Inlet and north Puget Sound. During the trial slowdown, large commercial vessels are encouraged to slow down when safe and operationally feasible to do so. By slowing down, large vessels reduce their underwater noise output. Quieter waters give orcas better opportunities to hunt and communicate with their pod.
Quiet Sound is collecting data on underwater noise reduction and vessel speeds. Quiet Sound’s scientific research and recommendations to industry will lay the groundwork for improved habitat quality for the endangered southern resident killer whales and a more sustainable “Blue Economy” or maritime economy in Washington.
About the Speaker
Rachel Aronson is the Quiet Sound Program Director at Washington Maritime Blue, a NGO that seeks to accelerate the sustainability and equity of the blue economy. Quiet Sound, founded in 2021, seeks to better understand and mitigate the impacts of large commercial vessels, such as cargo, ferry and cruise ships, on the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales in Washington State. Quiet Sound is a state-wide coalition of local, state, federal and tribal governments, the maritime sector and conservation NGOs. Rachel holds an M.M.A. from the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, as well as a B.A. in Biology and Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in West Seattle with her family and enjoys vegetable gardening, camping, and being on the water in their dinghy, the Salish Seahorse.
- Findlay, C.R., Rojano-Doñate, L., Tougaard, J., Johnson, M.P., & Madsen, P.T. (2023). Small reductions in cargo vessel speed substantially reduce noise impacts to marine mammals. Science Advances.
- Shields MW. 2023. 2018–2022 Southern Resident killer whale presence in the Salish Sea: continued shifts in habitat usage. PeerJ 11:e15635
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The Center for the Blue Economy is a research organization at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Our mission is to promote a sustainable ocean and coastal economy (the “Blue Economy”) through leadership in research, analysis, and education. For questions contact: Rachel C. at email@example.com or visit centerfortheblueeconomy.org or call 831-647-4183 (must leave message and receive call back).
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