Thursday, February 4, 2016
Victoria's Green Matters - 4th February 2016
The UK has a resident pod of killer whales which live in the sea off north-west Scotland. There are only eight members of this pod and they have not produced a calf in the nineteen years that they have been studied by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). Scientists involved in the study have discovered that pollution by toxic chemicals is the cause for this decline.
Western European waters are subject to pollution by PCBs which are persistent chemicals used in electrical equipment but which were banned in the 1980s. These chemicals are still leaking into our seas and oceans via unlined landfill sites and from sediment released by dredging shipping channels. PCBs impair breeding success and immune systems and research analysis has shown that the blubber from killer whales and dolphins contained levels at which severe toxic effects occur. Because whales and dolphins are at the head of the food chain, they receive large accumulated doses of toxins from their prey. These chemicals are very hard to destroy but action needs to be taken quickly or it will be too late to save these wonderful marine creatures.