Orca Month 2024: From Orcas to Humans

Clean Water, Healthy Futures

Illustration of an orca whale surrounded by fish and dolphins on a blue background with the words Clean Water, Healthy Futures.

Event Details




Online: Zoom



Brought to you by:

Salish Sea Institute, Orca Salmon Alliance, The Foundation for WWU & Alumni


Check out this video to watch the Orca Month 2024: From Orcas to Humans.

Orca Month, started by Orca Network, was created to bring together researchers, advocates and a growing community of orca lovers to raise awareness about the threats facing Southern Resident orcas. Now in its 18th year, Orca Month has spread from Washington to Oregon and British Columbia and includes educational and celebratory events throughout the month of June.

This year's Orca Month theme is Clean Water, Healthy Futures. Toxic pollution and contaminants in the environment are one of the three main threats facing orcas. Southern Residents in particular are susceptible to the impacts of toxics when combined with low prey availability. Join us for this special Orca Month opening webinar to hear from experts in the field who will provide an overview of common toxic substances and how they get into the water; how these toxic substances impact fish and killer whales; why people in low income and BIPOC communities experience disproportionate harm from these pollutants; and how we can take action to stop these pollutants from entering our waterways.


Jamie Hearn is medium light- skinned female with long brown hair, brown eyes, and a warm smile. She wears a grey plaid jacket and black shirt.

Jamie Hearn, Panelist

Jamie Hearn JD is the Duwamish River Community Coalition’s Director of Environmental Law and Climate Policy. She combines her passions for environmental justice, indigenous rights, policy work, science and community engagement in this role to uplift DRCC’s mission of elevating marginalized voices and creating a clean river for all.

Cheri Peele is a light-skinned female with brown hair, blue eyes, and a warm smile. She wears a blue jacket and has sunglasses resting on the top of her head.

Cheri Peele, Panelist

Cheri Peele is a Senior Projects Manager for Toxics Free Future. She has worked for over 20 years to create and implement leadership strategies for the transition to safer chemicals. Most recently, she served as program manager for the Chemical Footprint Project at Clean Production Action. She also led the development of the PBDE Chemical Action Plan for Washington state and comprehensive plans to address mercury in both Washington and Massachusetts.

Peter Ross is a bearded, light- skinned male with short hair and glasses. He has a serious expression and wears a dark blue shirt.

Peter Ross, Panelist

Dr. Peter S. Ross is Senior Scientist and Director of the new Raincoast Healthy Waters program. Dr. Ross is an internationally recognized ocean pollution expert, having published over 170 scientific articles and book chapters on pollutants of concern, and impacts on fish, seals and whales. He first documented very high levels of PCBs in Southern Resident killer whales in a groundbreaking 2000 study. He has dedicated a career to conducting research in support of policy, education and best practices, and has advised the Government of Canada, G7, OECD, Indigenous Nations, as well as municipal and regional authorities. 

Ruth Sofield is smiling. She is light-skinned, has blond hair, and wears glasses and a brown shirt with beige polka dots.

Ruth Sofield, Panelist

Dr. Sofield is an environmental toxicology and chemistry professor from the Environmental Sciences Department at Western Washington University. Her research focuses on bioavailability, freshwater and marine ecotoxicity, and chemistry of environmental contaminants, including metals, PAHs, and Contaminants of Emerging Concern. She is a Marine and Coastal Science (MACS) affiliated faculty and a member of the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel.

Accommodations and Other Details

Contact The Foundation for WWU & Alumni by calling (360) 650-3353 or emailing Alumni@wwu.edu. There will be auto-captions available for this event. 

The views expressed by our speakers do not necessarily reflect those of Western Washington University.