Center for Whale Research · ORCA SURVEY since 1976

A nonprofit organization

$16,328 raised by 142 donors

100% complete

$15,000 Goal

Since 1976, the Center for Whale Research (CWR) has been the leading organization studying and monitoring the gravely endangered Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) in their critical habitat: the Pacific Northwest’s Salish Sea. 

ABOVE: Members of J pod in the Strait of Juan de Fuca during 2024 Orca Survey Encounter #34 on April 10

The Center for Whale Research performs an annual census and regular health assessments of the orca population, informs the government of the population's health and needs, shares their stories with the world, and promotes ecosystem recovery. Our 48 years of research have created the longest and most complete data set about the Southern Residents’ behavior, health, and social dynamics.

Our scientific study and health assessments of the Southern Residents uniquely qualify us to provide research-based direction to elected officials about conservation objectives to meet the whales’ vital Salish Sea habitat needs.

As we’ve diligently done for five decades, Center for Whale Research scientists and researchers collect comprehensive demographic data for our ORCA SURVEY—one of the longest continuous individual-based marine mammal studies in science history—and Southern Resident killer whales projects. We record observed Southern Resident and Bigg’s orca births and deaths, monitor individual whale health, and examine their interactions and behaviors, providing ground-breaking insights into orca biology and ecology.

Ken Balcomb comparing identification photos of J2's right side dorsal fin and saddle patch, taken 36 years apart.

“It is critical for us to document and observe the Southern Residents for at least the lifespan of one whale, preferably longer, 150 years. Continuing ORCA SURVEY and our new research is vital to understanding the orcas’ enduring needs.” 
— Ken Balcomb, Center for Whale Research Founder (1940-2022)

Ken Balcomb’s wishes for the Center for Whale Research’s future were that the RESEARCH, EDUCATION, CONSERVATION, and ADVOCACY work he championed for so long would continue for generations. CWR’s Salish Sea-based team of scientists, field staff, educators, archivists, fundraisers, and volunteers are working relentlessly to achieve Ken’s aims. 

The Center for Whale Research’s essential research, outreach and education, conservation investments, 
and calls for action would cease without your financial help. 

Your financial contribution to the Center for Whale Research during GiveBIG 2024 is a:

  • BIG GIFT to the Center for Whale Research’s RESEARCH scientists so they can continue their critically important, science-based ORCA SURVEY and Aerial Observation Study projects.
  • BIG GIFT for CWR’s Orca Survey Outreach & Education Center (Friday Harbor, San Jan Island, WA) and staff, who persist in our EDUCATION of thousands worldwide about the orcas and their specific, healthier habit needs.
  • BIG GIFT toward the Center for Whale Research’s Pacific Northwest CONSERVATION efforts (e.g., Balcomb Big Salmon Ranch and advocating for removing the Lower Snake River dams) and healthier Chinook spawning habitat.
  • BIG GIFT to CWR as we press on with our ADVOCACY for “best” policy choices concerning natural wild Chinook salmon (the Southern Resident orcas’ priority need) habitat restoration to state and federal politicians, government agencies, and the media. 

Please help us reach our GIVE BIG 2024 donation goal of $15,000

Thank you very much.

Your generous GIVE BIG 2024 donations will help the Center for Whale Research achieve its 2024 research, education, conservation, and advocacy goals.

The Center for Whale Research is a 501c3 non-profit organization registered in Washington State. 

Organization Data


Organization name

Center for Whale Research · ORCA SURVEY since 1976

Tax id (EIN)





PO Box 1577
Friday Harbor, WA 98250

Service areas

Friday Harbor, WA, US, 98250



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