Now although this breakthrough provided important insights into the whales’ behavior, it also uncovered a heartbreaking truth. You see, it was believed that thousands of killer whales lived beneath the waves in the Pacific Northwest region. The reality, however, was altogether more shocking.
Instead, researchers discovered that the numbers of whales were much lower than had been expected. And what’s perhaps even more saddening is that, according to the CWR, humans are believed to have been the direct cause of this decline. Why? Well, around five decades ago, a number of orcas were snatched from the sea and taken to marine parks.
During these efforts to capture them, some whales died, and it seems that as a result of these deaths – along with other human-related factors – the population has never fully recovered. Consequently, the SRKW community is now officially considered endangered by the U.S. government. And so this is why the remaining orcas such as Tahlequah are vital in ensuring the survival of their species.