Media Advisory, April 20, 2021


Elizabeth Burton, Seattle Cruise Control, (206) 407-5398,
Catherine Kilduff, Center For Biological Diversity, (202) 780-8862,

Earth Day Celebration at Port of Seattle Seeks to Protect Ocean, Endangered Orcas From Vessels in Salish Sea

SEATTLE— Thursday’s socially distanced Earth Day gathering across from the Port of Seattle offices will celebrate the year-long absence of noisy and polluting cruise ships from the Salish Sea.

Conservation groups will hold this festive event to highlight how the Port of Seattle’s proposed expansion could harm critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales. That population has dropped to just 74 orcas. The expansion includes an additional cruise terminal near Pioneer Square and plans to expand the harbor to allow more cargo shipping.

“Southern Residents are starving to death and increasing boat noise and traffic are accelerating their decline,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We need to take better care of these West Coast orcas and the Salish Sea. The Seattle Harbor expansion plan to accommodate ultra-large container ships is a huge threat to these imperiled animals.”

“Cruise ships dump engine waste, plastic waste, and human waste while spewing poison into the air. It’s time to dump this unsustainable and toxic business model,” says Peggy Printz, a member of Seattle Cruise Control taking to the water in a kayak for the event.

"The break from cruise ship activity due to the pandemic is both a wake-up-call about the fragility of the industry and an opportunity to rethink cruise tourism," says Stacy Oaks, an organizer with 350 Seattle. "We see communities in places from Key West to Alaska voting for restrictions on the number and size of visiting vessels. We see reports of orcas improving with less disturbance. And we see an opportunity for the Port of Seattle to make their goal of being the greenest port in North America more than just lip service."

What: A colorful and festive gathering of kayaktivists and people in orca and dolphin costumes, plus landlubbers. Festivities will include music, dancing and a press conference by the sea creatures. Kayaktivists will be on the water with banners.

When: Thursday, April 22, 11 a.m. to noon (press conference begins around 11:30am)

Where: Pocket Beach, Myrtle Edwards Park, 3131 Elliott Ave., Seattle, WA 98121

Who: Representatives of 350 Seattle, Seattle Cruise Control, Extinction Rebellion Seattle and other groups calling for more protection from vessel disturbance and pollution for orcas and other wildlife in the Salish Sea.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a federal lawsuit last month because of the harm shipping traffic will do to critically endangered orcas when Seattle Harbor expands to accommodate ultra-large container ships. Noise disrupts endangered orcas’ feeding because they need to echolocate salmon, their preferred prey.

The project would also dredge up toxic contaminants as it deepens and enlarges the channel. Orcas starving and burning fat stores laden with chemicals is one reason for their low reproductive rates.

Seattle Cruise Control has been highlighting concerns associated with cruise ships in general and a proposal to build a third cruise terminal at T46 that would make additional runs to Alaska in particular, ever since the Port of Seattle first publicized the plans.

“We cannot hope to avoid the climate emergency, clean up the air in near-port communities, and restore life to the Salish Sea by expanding fossil fuel and waste- intensive operations like cruise ships” says Jordan Van Voast of Seattle Cruise Control. “It’s time for the Port of Seattle to use a more holistic and creative approach when it comes to investments and growth."

350 Seattle works toward climate justice by organizing people to make deep system change: resisting fossil fuels; building momentum for healthy alternatives; and fostering resilient, just, and welcoming communities.

Seattle Cruise Control's mission is to cancel the Port of Seattle’s proposed Terminal 46 cruise ship project, thereby responding to the climate crisis and protecting the environment, marine wildlife, public health, and local economies and traditions in coastal communities from Seattle to Alaska.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.