The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is taking proposals for grant funding to support orca whale conservation through its Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program.

Since its start in 2015, the program has invested about $1.9 million in orca conservation, primarily through research and restoration to help the endangered southern resident orcas that live in the Salish Sea.

The grant program supports work to increase food for the orcas — primarily chinook salmon — as well as improve habitat and fill research gaps.

The program receives funding primarily from Sea World Entertainment Inc. and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This year, the program also received $250,000 from Shell Oil Co.

“We are excited to partner with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support conservation efforts in the Salish Sea and greater Puget Sound region,” Shirley Yap, general manager for the Shell Puget Sound Refinery near Anacortes, said in a news release.

The foundation will accept grant proposals through July 14, and awards will be announced in December.

The grant program has funded nine projects since its inception.

Last year, the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group was awarded about $140,000 to create salmon habitat in the upper Skagit River.

The salmon that orcas rely on for food spawn in the upper reaches of the river, making it an important part of the food chain for the whales.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199,

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