Puget Sound killer whales are among the most studied and protected animals in the world. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (search), the whales living in the Pacific Northwest inland sea can't be killed, fed or even viewed within 100 yards.

But environmentalists want more, recently suing the federal government to get the whales listed under the Endangered Species Act (search) — which would allow them to file lawsuits against anyone who might impact the orcas' habitat.

The local orca (search) population in Seattle has dropped from its 1996 peak of 97 to 80. But the species is still thriving more than it was in the 1970s. Around the world, the orca population is healthy.

Advocates say an endangered listing is another layer of protection for the whale. Critics counter the move would just be another layer of bureaucracy and lawsuits.

Click here to watch a fair and balanced report by Fox News' Dan Springer.