Orca Habitat

In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, a female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island.

— Corrected 11/25 to reflect that anchovies may be eaten by salmon.

In the continued effort to understand what it will take to prevent the region’s Southern Resident orca whales from becoming extinct, a partnership announced Thursday about $666,000 in grant funding to several organizations in the Salish Sea region.

The grant program, called “Killer whale research & conservation,” focuses on supporting research of Southern Resident orca behavior and the threats the whales face: lack of food, boat traffic and pollution.

The program is organized by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with support from NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, SeaWorld Entertainment and Shell Oil Co.

Of six projects awarded funding this year, two are based in the San Juan Islands, according to a foundation news release.

The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor will use about $21,500 toward modeling the movement of the orcas and looking at connections with the timing of salmon migrations, water temperatures and other factors.

The Kwiáht Center for the Historical Ecology of the Salish Sea will use about $28,000 toward evaluating how northern anchovy may fit in the food chain with chinook slamon and Southern Resident orcas — possibly as a dietary substitute for the salmon or as competitors with other fish the salmon eat.

The Southern Resident orcas have been listed as endangered since 2005, but the population continues to decline.

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