Killer or not, the Orca whale is a significant player in our ecosystem and a crucial part of the animal kingdom. Unfortunately, due to evergrowing rates of pollution and human interference, these beautiful mammals have joined the list of endangered species.
A series of disturbing events occurred over the past few weeks, which has left us gravely concerned with the well-being and safety of the southern resident killer whale species.
It all started on July 24th, when a mother whale, named Tahlequah, was spotted clinging to her dead calf’s body. The youngling lived for an hour before drawing its last breath and ever since the mother can’t let go. During the past few weeks, Tahlequah’s pod members have been spotted numerous times, helping her keep the calf’s body afloat.
In addition to this heartbreaking event, a 3-year-old Orca calf named J50, was recently found battling a life-threatening infection. Because the southern resident killer whales are at highest risk of dying out, they have taken the spotlight of whale extinction concerns. Currently, their population stands at just 75, which is the lowest number recorded in 30 years.
The dead calf spotted in late July was the first to have been born in over three years. Researchers claim there are three things getting in the way of the whales’ survival including lack of prey, noise and vessel traffic, and chemical contaminants.
These whales live in the waters of Canada and the northwest US, where the Chinook salmon community has immensely declined. As these salmon are the Orca’s main source of food, the whales are hungry, suffering, and dying out. Scientists have proved the lack of food supply is also causing frequent miscarriages and, with declining reproductive rates, the population of the southern resident killer whales will continue plummeting.