Ken Balcomb passes away at the age of 82

Posted December 16, 2022 at 8:44 pm by

Contributed photo

The Cen­ter for Whale Research shares unfor­tu­nate news about the pass­ing of its founder.

With pro­found sad­ness, the Cen­ter for Whale Research announces the pass­ing of our beloved founder and long­time leader Ken­neth C. Balcomb.

Ken’s fam­i­ly and loved ones sur­round­ed him in his final hours on Dec. 15. He was 82 years old.

Ken was a pio­neer and leg­end in the whale world. But more impor­tant­ly, he was the North Star, a guid­ing light. Over half a cen­tu­ry of whale research and advo­ca­cy, he lit a path for tens of thou­sands to fol­low. He was a sci­en­tist with a deep-root­ed love and con­nec­tion to the whales and their ocean habi­tat. He inspired oth­ers to appre­ci­ate both as much as he did.

Ken spent much of his career detail­ing and doc­u­ment­ing the lives of the South­ern Res­i­dent orca pop­u­la­tion in the Pacif­ic Northwest’s Sal­ish Sea. His ground­break­ing Orca Sur­vey study deter­mined that the Res­i­dent orcas need­ed more food abun­dance in a healthy habi­tat to sur­vive. He con­tin­u­al­ly her­ald­ed his mes­sage to the world — “No fish, No Black­fish” — no Chi­nook salmon, no South­ern Res­i­dent orcas.

The Cen­ter for Whale Research’s South­ern Res­i­dents orca research began in 1976 — it is the longest study of this pop­u­la­tion. Ken’s goal was always for CWR’s research to con­tin­ue for 150 years, pro­vid­ed there were whales to study. All of us at CWR share Ken’s vision and mis­sion to pre­serve and pro­tect the mag­nif­i­cent South­ern Res­i­dent killer whales. He often said about the crit­i­cal­ly endan­gered South­ern Res­i­dents, “I’m not going to count them to zero, at least not quietly.”

The CWR board of direc­tors and staff are ded­i­cat­ed to con­tin­u­ing Ken Balcomb’s life’s work.

Thank you, Ken. We will car­ry you in our hearts forever.

A mem­o­ry board has been cre­at­ed on our web­site. We respect­ful­ly wel­come you to share your mes­sages and mem­o­ries of Ken.

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