"Time will tell if we do so fast enough. And killer whales have such sophisticated emotional lives the problems of these urban orcas are often quite public—and hard to watch. Without enough Chinook to eat, Southern Residents are getting noticeably skinnier, particularly among the very females who should be giving birth to the next generation. Especially hard-hit are killer whales living near industrialized areas around the Straits of Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, where less than 10 are thought to remain. One of the wonderful parts of working for Earthjustice is that you learn about the science as well as the law. He and his half-brother, Ken Balcomb, are among scores of naturalists, some paid, most volunteers, who track the precise movement of the creatures on a daily, or even hourly, basis. The world’s top scientists warn that biodiversity is in a free fall. And these are slow-acting contaminants, which means adults can still see impacts from exposure as calves or while they were in utero. NOAA said the orcas are one worldwide species and that there were enough other orcas elsewhere in the world. Today, over half of the shipping activity in Canadian waters occurs off the coast of B.C., with much of that concentrated in the Salish Sea. While many factors contribute to the decline, three are key. Last summer, the world watched as a grieving orca mother carried her dead calf for 17 days. Learn how your comment data is processed. We led the campaign to keep plastic out of the Sound with a ban on plastic bags in Seattle in 2012 — and just earlier this year, we worked to take that ban statewide. Both of these factors have allowed them to successfully intimidate other orcas who enter the Salish Sea, but it also makes them poor hunters. The Puget Sound orcas live in three pods named J, K, and L. Members of L pod, Admiralty Inlet, Oct. 10, 2009. Starving orcas dying in Puget Sound. Her entire family including her was taken from the Puget Sound and sold to aquariums all around the world. Worst of all, many key shipping lanes coincide with the Southern Residents’ crucial summer foraging areas in Haro Strait, Boundary Pass, Georgia Strait, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Yet today orcas across the northern hemisphere are among the most heavily contaminated animals on Earth. So much so, that orcas’ fatty tissues are packed with traces of pesticides, flame retardants and other industrial chemicals. The home range of these orcas is further south than many others, so they are more accessible to people than other orcas. They are losing both weight and numbers, and are poised to be functionally extinct within a century. The Oceans Protection Plan is similarly focused on research rather than mitigation. The world’s most iconic orcas are on a collision course with extinction, and it’s because of much more than oil tankers. So why don’t the Southern Residents simply try eating something else? Carolyn Adolph; Oct 28, 2016 at 5:10 pm It’s been a bad year for the southern orca community. Eighty percent of global PCB stockpiles have not yet been destroyed. Meanwhile, more heavy vessels in the Salish Sea would only add to the populations’ dwindling ability to communicate. The docile orcas so captured the world’s imagination that more than 40 Southern Residents were subsequently lost to captivity between 1964 and 1973. Something went wrong while submitting the form. It's based on computer modeling, and impacts to killer whales are extrapolated from studies of other animals. The troubling news comes on the heels of a UN report warning that one-eighth of the world’s plant and animal species face extinction due to human causes. Barges and tugs are asked to move south out of known feeding areas, and the port even offers discounts to vessels employing noise reduction technology. Of 11 whales found by the researchers to be alarmingly skinny, eight belonged to J-pod, the pod that spends the most time in Victoria waters. Today, there are as few as 75 individuals. However, none of these measures have been able to boost the amount of Chinook in the water, which remains the primary factor killing off the Southern Residents. But both maintain that countries need to act more quickly to clean up legacy pollutants, both at home and through the Stockholm Convention. One thing that really stuck with me is that orcas are one of the few species that are matrilineal. Northern resident orcas like this one live primarily in the cleaner, quieter waters of northern Vancouver Island and Southeast Alaska, where there also are more fish to eat. And that’s one of the most tragic things about the ongoing saga of the Southern Residents. One of the most remarkable things about orcas is that, just like humans, they move in groups with distinctive languages, diets, traditions and rituals. Southern Residents spend their entire lives literally swimming in the various toxic runoffs from Vancouver, Victoria and Puget Sound. A daily summary of what's happening in Victoria. Copyright © 2020 Capital Daily, All rights reserved. Although activists have recently alleged that oil tankers added by the Trans Mountain expansion will serve as the death warrant to the Southern Residents, the reality is that those tankers would only represent a marginal increase to the vast flotilla of vessels already packed into the Salish Sea. But new research published Thursday in the journal Science suggests more than half of the world's killer whale populations could face complete collapse in 30 to 50 years, thanks to a suite of toxic chemicals the world has already banned.

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