Threat to UK Killer Whales Prompts Call for Urgent Government Action
New research published today in the journal Science, led by Aarhus University in Denmark, predicts more than half of the world’s killer whale (orca) populations face collapse due to the effects of invisible toxic pollutants called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). A stable compound used in paints and sealants, PCBs were banned in the 1980’s yet these chemicals still persist in our oceans today. PCBs accumulate in the bodies of all marine animals but, as apex predators at the very top of the food chain, killer whales are particularly at risk.
Here at HWDT, we have seen first-hand the devastating effects of PCBs in our marine environment. The UK population of killer whales, known as the West Coast Community, are regularly seen on the west coast of Scotland. They are the only resident group of killer whales in UK waters, and one of the most highly PCB-contaminated populations in the world. Now, numbering only eight individuals, our team have observed no calves since monitoring began in the 1990’s.
HWDT have joined with ten other UK wildlife charities in issuing a joint statement to the UK Government coordinated by Wildlife and Countryside LINK. The coalition are calling for urgent action to prevent further PCB toxic chemical waste entering our oceans and killing our mammals.