Orca “apocalypse”: half of the killer whales doomed to die from pollution
Orca or killer whales are now in trouble due to toxic chemical pollution in the environment. According to a new study, in spite of that 40 years ago, polychlorinated biphenyls were prohibited, they are still posing a deadly threat to orcas. The chemical compounds were produced in large quantities and used from plastics, paints to electrical equipment and sealants.
As researches of Zoological Society of London and Aarhus University points out the seas around the UK are the most contaminated in the world. They found out declining populations of orcas in 10 of the 19 areas with the species expected to disappear entirely. Dr. Paul Jepson, an author of the study from ZSL, said that PCB issue in Europe was as bad as it could be possibly got. “All we have done is banned them and hoped they went away,” he reported.
Moreover, the study makes the future of the mammals’ reproductive success and survivability against the chemical challenge. For those whales that live in clean waters, it is positive. However, for those that live in the most polluted seas, the next 30-50 years will be terrible. For example, orcas living on the west coast of Scotland are now down to just eight individuals, and they have not produced a calf in more than 20 years. It should be noted that orcas, or killer whales, are the largest of the dolphins and one of the world’s most powerful predators.
Aizhana Danabekova holds a BA in International Relations and is currently studying for an MSocSc in Cultural Sociology at University College Dublin. She started her career in journalism in Almaty, Kazakhstan at Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. She wrote articles about different cultures and led the title “Let’s learn Kazakh”.