Woman, 71, on near two-week hunger strike to raise awareness for starving orcas

OLYMPIA, WA (KIRO/CNN)-- A 71-year-old woman at the Washington state capitol is on a hunger strike that will reach its 12th day on Friday.

Lanni Johnson is hoping to raise awareness about starving orcas in Puget Sound. She’s planning to fast for 17 days in all.

Johnson, along with a friend dressed in an orca costume, have been protesting at the state capitol since the first of the month.

They’re distressed by the plummeting numbers of orcas in Puget Sound – where there are currently just 74, a 30-year low.

According to experts, there's a lack of chinook salmon, the orcas’ primary food source.

"It makes me cry, you know, it's just that upsetting,” Johnson said.

She talked about a mother orca last year who carried around her dead calf for more than two weeks in what was described as an “unprecedented act of mourning.”

"I chose 17 days to emulate Tahlequah, who carried her dead baby for 17 days last summer,” Johnson said.

While state leaders are taking steps, Johnson said they're taking too long.