A BUDDING filmmaker is highlighting the plight of endangered killer whales in a bid to save them from extinction.

Jess Webster, from Kirby-Le-Soken, is studying for a masters degree in wildlife filmmaking alongside the BBC’s natural history unit in Bristol.

She is heading to Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea on the US-Canadian border to film a community of southern resident killer whales.

“They are critically endangered,” said Jess, 25.

“They are basically starving which is quite surprising for killer whales because we think of them as top predators.

“But this particular community are specialist fish feeders and most of their diet is Chinook salmon.

“There are only 76 of the orcas left and their numbers are at a 30-year low.

“If things don’t change soon they will become extinct in the next 100 years or so.

“They have been around in this eco-system for 5,000-plus years to it would be really sad if that happened.”

Jess has been passionate about killer whales since she was young.

She wants to raise awareness about the southern resident orcas by turning their story into a short film.

“People don’t realise there are different types,” she said.

“These aren’t the ones you see on TV eating seals and penguins.

“There are a lot of seals in the area but they won’t eat them because they are fish feeders.”

But the number of Chinook salmon has plummeted significantly in recent years and the whales are struggling to survive.

Baby orca death rates are at a record high with two thirds of pregnancies failing due to malnutrition.

Jess, who has a degree in zoology, will be filming the killer whales from boats.

She said: “It’s not going to be easy but I’m going with a course mate and working people who work with killer whales every day so finding them shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

“It will be challenging but I think it is important so I am going to do my best.”

The film is called the Final Breach and will be screened to industry professionals later in November.

Jess has set up a crowdfunding page to try raise £5,000 to help finance the project.

“Marine mammals are my passion,” she said.

“A lot of species are in trouble and filming them is a really powerful tool to reach people.

"I’m just trying to get the message out to as many people as possible and generate support for the film.”

For more details about the project or to donate, visit indiegogo.com and search 'The Final Breach'.