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02 July 2014

Pollution Causing Worry For U.S. Orcas

southern resident orcasOrcas, or killer whales, are top predators and one of the most wide-spread mammal species on the planet. But recent evidence discovered by scientists has revealed worrying signs that people may be causing them harm by polluting their homes.

Pollution is when contaminants and other substances escape from human waste and rubbish and end up in the natural environment. These substances, or pollutants, build up inside the bodies of animals when they feed, and if allowed to reach high enough level s can lead to bad health and even death.

Sadly this is what is happening to a population of orcas in Puget Sound off the Northwest coast of America. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have found that the orcas swimming in Puget Sound contain very high levels of pollutants in their bodies.  In fact, the levels are so high that these orcas are considered to be among the most contaminated marine mammals in the planet.

This community of orcas now stands at around 80 individuals, which sounds like a big number, but only a few calves successfully make it to adulthood each year. This means that not many new orcas are replacing the ones that are lost and the population is going through a worrying period of decline.

WDC has a member of staff looking at problems affecting orcas of North America and thankfully, there are many other people who care and are looking out for these whales. So there is hope that something can be done to better protect these much-loved marine mammals in the future.

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