‘Tis the season to sue over whales. Environmentalists in the Pacific Northwest announced this week that they plan to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service over its decision to deny protected status to orca whales in Puget Sound. In June, the NMFS found that the local orca population, which has declined 20 percent since 1996, does indeed face possible extinction, but nonetheless determined that it did not meet the requirements for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Meanwhile, a coalition of national environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council has sued the NMFS and the U.S. Navy to block use of a new sonar system it fears could harm whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures that rely on acoustics to find food, mates, and migratory routes. The coalition says approval by the feds of the sonar system violates the species act; the Navy says the sonar is necessary to protect aircraft carriers and other warships from submarine attacks.