Since the devastating nuclear power plant meltdown at Fukushima, we have had to learn a lot about radiation pollution, the environment and life itself. Sadly, similar to cases like this, it has been anything but good.
In the years following the horrible disaster, marine biologists, as well as other researchers began to notice the mortality rate among orcas climbing. While no one has proven that there is a link between the orca population and the radiation from Fukushima, most agree that there is a possibility for one.
While the orca population has been through many trials over the past few decades, it is now in the worst shape of its existence.
Recently, when an 18-year-old female whale died, a few scientists weighed in on exactly how badly orca mortality rates were.
“It couldn’t be much worse than losing an 18-year-old female,” [Dr. Peter Ross, a senior scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium] said. “This was a female who was at the sunrise of her reproductive life.”… “There’s virtually no survival of the babies anymore, which of course means there’s no future… We have to turn this around somehow,” said [Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research].
Another explained that they were basically near extinction. Dr. Andrew Trites, U. of British Columbia: “To lose a female of reproductive age, that’s absolutely the worst thing possible that could happen… without them, the population is doomed.”
According to the Times Colonist,
Ken Balcomb stated that “We haven’t had any survivals in babies for a couple of years. We have had stillborns and newborns die… It’s like zero survival in birth rate here.”
And while orca population has seen a sharp increase in mortality rates since the 2011 incident, one might speculate that it would be worthwhile to look into. Especially taking into consideration that it isn’t just infant orcas that aren’t surviving, as many adult specimens have also washed up on the beach. Scientists have also noticed that orcas are expressing odd behaviors. Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard, who works as the senior marine mammal scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium has begun “sounding the alarm” due to the unreasonable mortality rate and behavior changes being seen in orca pods located around the coast of Canada and Alaska.
Once again, no scientific links have been found between the dwindling orca population and rising mortality rates among their young. However, it would seem that radiation poisoning couldn’t be entirely ruled out, especially due to the fact that radioactive salmon have been found off the same coasts.