Contributing Monkie G Monkie
Published on April 23, 2010
More sad nature news and documentary on yet another species in trouble of going extinct. This time its the top predator of the sea, the Killer Whale. The Pacific coast of North America is the largest laboratory on earth where on-going studies into the state of the Killer Whale reveal startling new information about the oceans we inhabit. Killer in Peril is a sobering report on our planet’s heath told from the unique perspective of an extraordinary animal.
Via seattlepi.com: Killer whales in grave danger
Puget Sound’s southern resident killer whales are going extinct faster than the Seahawks playoff hopes, but the government agency charged with protecting them has refused to do anything about it. So today conservationists are going to court to force the agency to comply with the law and protect the whales from extinction.
Since 1996, the southern resident population has declined nearly 20 percent. Scientists have found that toxic pollution, habitat degradation and stresses from an increasing amount of vessel traffic are all implicated. Combine these threats with the ever-present risks of oil spills, boat collisions and diseases, and we may witness the extinction of the Pacific Northwest’s most magnificent and charismatic species within the next century.
To prevent this, a coalition of conservationists, independent scientists and citizen groups formally requested, on May 1, 2001, that the National Marine Fisheries Service protect the southern residents under the Endangered Species Act.
The ESA is needed to protect these whales because the law is our nation’s most powerful and effective environmental law; nearly every species granted ESA protection has been saved from extinction. And the ESA has shown it is particularly effective in cases like the southern residents, where we have enough time to turn the tide on the whales’ extinction if we invoke protective measures without delay.
But time started to turn against the whales quickly. Just two months into the fisheries service’s review of the request to protect the whales, scientists reported that the population declined even further, and in the worst possible way. Reproductively active females — the most important component of any population — were lost at an unprecedented rate. A few months later, a juvenile southern resident whale known as Luna (L-98) was discovered swimming alone far from its native habitat, suggesting a breakdown in killer whale social structure never before observed.
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