In 2005, the Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) were listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Subsequently, a recovery plan was drafted, and efforts have been made to reach the goals of the recovery plan. Early on in the management process, it became clear that extensive biological studies helped gain a greater understanding of a broad range of topics surrounding the SKRW. Amidst the biological studies, social scientists identified a unique relationship between the correlated whale watching industry and the SRKWs themselves. As a result, in 2006, we conducted a social study of the U.S. SRKW whale watching industry. We administered a survey to industry members in an effort to create a socio-economic description of the industry and to inform ecosystem-based management.
Study results are found in The U.S. Whale Watching Industry of the Greater Puget Sound: A Description and Baseline Analysis.
Additional considerations for new research in this realm are ongoing.