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Despite decade of protection, Puget Sound orcas still in trouble

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SEATTLE — In the decade since Puget Sound’s southern resident killer whales were protected under the Endangered Species Act, scientists have figured out where they go in winter, learned that they eat mostly chinook and have documented the many ways orcas shift their behavior in response to noise from boats.

Despite that vast increase in knowledge since the cetaceans were listed as endangered in 2005, the region’s orca population — already a fraction of what it was in the 1960s — still is not growing, according to a new synopsis of research on the troubled whales by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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