Lynda Mapes on Puget Sound’s Imperiled Orcas and a Mother Whale's Grief

Neil Orman

Lynda V. Mapes, environmental reporter for The Seattle Times, discusses her reporting on the plight of southern resident killer whales in Puget Sound. Mapes and her colleagues at the paper won the 2019 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Gold Award in the Large Newspaper category for their “Hostile Waters” series. The ambitious project was accentuated by a mother orca’s trail of grief as she carried her dead newborn for a 1,000-mile journey that lasted 17 days. The story helped spotlight the precarious state of Puget Sound’s orca population. There are now just over 70 of the animals left, Mapes said, and their fate depends on humans and what we do to preserve the habitats of both the orcas and the salmon on which they feed.