2 Reasons Why Canadian Pacific Orcas are At-Risk

By December 8, 2010 October 28th, 2011 Ocean News

There is something you should know about orcas…It’s not that they are big, or intelligent, or they have a great ability to work together when they hunt. So what do you need to know about orcas (formerly known as killer whales)…You need to know that they are at risk of going extinct from the West coast of Canada.

The Canadian Species At Risk Act gives the Department of Fisheries the authority to protect the species; however, it doesn’t seem like they are doing a great job. A number of environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation launched a suit against the Canadian government as they believed the government was not adequately protecting Orcas in Canadian Water under the Species At Risk Act. Guess what??? The environmental groups won!

The Cause for Concern About Orcas

It is difficult to pin point the exact reason why the orcas population is dwindling in Western Canada as there is no defining cause. There are a number of causes for their decreased population. Here are 2 reasons why they may not be doing so well:

1) Water Pollution – There are metals, plastics, hydrocarbons, and other harmful substances leaking into our Oceans every day. The contaminants end up somewhere in the Ocean. An increasing problem is the fact that the contaminants find their way into large Ocean Animals such as whales, or more specifically, orcas. Autospy reports on orcas (when they are conducted) often attribute the death of the orcas as contaminant poisoning. Water pollution is a growing problem in our Oceans calling for more effective regulations to monitor water quality.

2) Underwater Noise – Underwater noise is getting a lot of attention in our Oceans as it has an affect on marine mammals (whales such as Orcas). What’s the problem? Well, underwater noise can be so loud that it could alter the hearing of orcas. Noise such as sonar and seismic intruments, which emit a loud noise in the water can often raise the hearing threshold of animals. Think of it like this: You listen to yur iPod as load as it can go everyday for 5 days. On the 6th day, you listen to your iPod at a lower level, but you can’t hear the music as well. You just altered your hearing threshold. In the cases of orcas and other whales, underwater noise alters the hearing threshold in a similar way to the iPod example, but on a much higher level.

These serious problems are preventing the Orca populations from growing and in fact, they are reducing the populations very quickly.

So how can you help? Well, each of us can stop contributing the water pollution by reducing/eliminating our use of plastics, disposing of chemicals, such as oil, gasoline, pesticides, and house cleaning prodcuts in the proper manner (meaning not down the drain or sewers because all of those chemicals will enventually end up in the Oceans at some point and time. It’s difficult to stop underwater noise, but one thing you can do is reduce your dependence on fuel as much of the underwater noise that is occurring in the Ocean are due to sesmic serveys to search for new oil depositis.

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