Did you know? Even without oil spills, the noise from increased Kinder Morgan tanker traffic increases the risk of extinction for orcas.

How would Orcas be impacted by the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline?

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This page builds on information from a Tsleil-Waututh Nation report that assesses the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project. You can read and download the full report here.

 

Many marine mammals, including orcas, are at risk in the event of an oil spill:

  • Southern resident killer whales in British Columbia are considered an endangered species while northern whales are considered threatened. Sadly, recovery plans in place are weak. (Raincoast Conservation Foundation, 2014)
  • Many marine mammals, including orcas (also called ‘blackfish’ or ‘southern resident killer whale’), reside in or visit Burrard Inlet. (Trans Mountain Assessment Report, p. 32)

 

Map: Areas used by select marine mammal species and location of recent sightings (orca = red)

 

Impact of Oil spills

  • More than 25 years after the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, orca populations have not yet recovered. The impact on orca populations of an oil spill caused by the Kinder Morgan pipeline or associated tanker traffic would have the same effects. (Trans Mountain Assessment Report, p. 71)

Underwater noise

  • The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion will increase tanker and tug traffic in the Burrard Inlet significantly. Loud, underwater noises resulting from running tankers or tug engines change animal behaviour and can disturb the orcas senses, as they rely on sonar to communicate and forage for food. The blackfish sonar system is critical for their survival. (Trans Mountain Assessment Report, p. 78)
  • Even without oil spills the additional noise from Kinder Morgan tanker traffic increases the risk of extinction to the already endangered orcas. According to Raincoast, “the approval of the Kinder Morgan project sanctions the probable extinction of Southern Resident killer whales.” (Raincoast Conservation Foundation, para. 4)

Cultural importance to Tsleil-Waututh

  • Changes in the behaviour of blackfish, a culturally important species for Tsleil-Waututh, could include ceasing visits to Burrard Inlet. This would deprive the Tsleil-Waututh community of the benefit of blackfish presence. (Trans Mountain Assessment Report, p. 78)

Salmon and other food sources

 

Map: Major salmon bearing rivers and streams

Map: Major salmon bearing rivers and streams (Trans Mountain Assessment Report, p. 37)

 

We have the chance to defend our orcas by stopping the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. Click here to learn more.

 

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Would tanker traffic increase if the proposed pipeline was built? Acoustic disturbance: Increased tanker traffic will cause acoustic disruption underwater, and cause marine animals to change their behaviour -- especially culturally important species such as whales and blackfish. For more information, see our page on the pipeline's impacts on whales.
Would the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline affect fish, birds, and wildlife? Fish, birds, and other wildlife are in the immediate path of harm in the event of any oil spill, major or minor. Here's how: Any marine birds near an oil spill risk oiling and probable death. A major spill could result in one of the top bird mortality events ever caused by oil.
Kinder Morgan Concerns Get answers to all your questions about the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline – from oil spill risks, to impacts on wildlife and drinking water, to economic risks.
Would the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline risk British Columbia drinking water? Yes, the proposed pipeline would endanger some of our local sources of drinking water, and threaten Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River in various locations. In some communities, the pipeline would threaten the only water source they have available. The Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer is a drinking water source ...

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