These first few weeks of the new year have held both good and bad news about the southern resident orcas off Washington's coasts.
Early this month, The Associated Press published an article about two ailing orcas - a male and a female - from the southern resident pod. The orcas are not expected to make it to summer.
A bit of good news came this past week, however: an orca calf was spotted in the pod.
While the calf looks healthy now, researchers are weary to be too optimistic because the survival rate of baby orcas is only about 50 percent. The southern resident population has not had a successful birth in three years.
The ailing orcas are starving. The female has what researchers call peanut head, a misshapen head and neck caused by starvation. The young male is malnourished, likely because his mother died, leaving him without an integral part of the orcas' family feeding system.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said his priorities in the 2019 legislative session include climate change and helping to save the southern resident orcas.
Of course, nature is not always predictable and easy to manage. Inslee has announced a plan to help the population, including a $1.1 billion spending bill and a partial whale-watching ban.
It's also not always easy for the everyday citizen to feel they can have a positive impact on a creature they may have never even seen, but we on the editorial board feel it's important, as we continue to see the orca populations dwindle, to remember what we can do, as small as it might seem.
And the best thing we can do is be vocal. We can help spread the word about what's happening to these creatures in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. While some would disagree, the plight of the southern resident population is man-made.
We are the reason there are not enough salmon. We are the ones operating the boats that pollute their home and the environment as a whole. We are the creatures who make and inadequately dispose of the plastics and trash that are slowing filling our oceans.
As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The more we speak out about how a change needs to be made, the more likely we are to be heard.