Shows at family adventure parks featuring Shamu — an orca or killer whale — have made these gigantic mammals one of the most famous marine animals. Shamu’s wild brothers and sisters, however, face many threats to their survival in the open ocean.
One of the most important dangers is water pollution. Orcas collect water pollutants in their bodies as they slurp up fish. One Orca can gobble 500 pounds of food each day — the weight of about 60 gallon jugs of milk. Pollutants in those fish build up in an orca’s body and can make these whales get sick.
The oceans have grown cleaner over the years, thanks to new laws that reduced water pollution. As a result, some people thought that orcas were safe from this environmental threat. However, a new study published by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest group of scientists, says that it not quite true. The study was printed in September in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology, a journal or magazine for scientists. It found that water pollution may continue to threaten orcas for up to 60 more years.
Dr. Peter S. Ross, a scientist at Canada’s Institute of Ocean Fisheries, was leader of the scientific team that studied orcas. The scientists hope their work will alert the world to the need for more action to protect Shamu’s wild brothers and sisters from water pollution. -American Chemical Society