Save America’s Wildlife

Celebrating Ken Balcomb 1940-2022

Lifelong orca researcher and advocate passes


NOAA via Pixabay | Public Domain

On Thursday, Dec. 15, Ken Balcolmb, a researcher and lifelong advocate for the southern resident orcas, passed away at 82. Balcolmb’s lifelong work studying the southern residents and his leadership in the movement to restore this endangered population can’t be understated. 

He was the first to document the unique markings on each of the whales and establish a standardized tracking system of the orcas that make Puget Sound their home. Thanks in large part to Balcolmb’s pioneering work, we now know every member of the southern resident orca pods by name, and have developed an intimate understanding of the population’s social dynamics, birth rates, death rates, and more. Balcomb was a leader in the movement to remove the Lower Snake River dams, which is the single largest restoration opportunity to restore a critical food source for the endangered southern resident orcas. You can read more about Ken Balcomb’s work here.

Environment Washington’s work to save our orcas stands on the shoulders of giants like Ken Balcomb. Join the movement today to save our orcas and push for restoration of the Lower Snake River.

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