Killer whales face certain death around the world.
In fact, more than half of these beautiful creatures are doomed to die from industrial chemicals.
And the scary part is these chemicals were banned 30 years ago.
The chemicals are polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.
And they have been building up in the whales’ tissue.
These latest developments are contained in a study published in the journal Science.
PCBs have been banned in Canada since 1977.
The study examined 19 different whale populations from all over the world.
Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark, took biopsies of orcas or killer whales.
The biopsies were from whales in northern Norway, Iceland, and eastern Greenland.
The results were compared with datasets from around the world to determine how PCBs are affecting killer whale populations.
Out of the 19 more than 50 per cent had levels high enough to impair whale population growth.
And eight of them are in severe danger of collapse in a few decades.
Killer Whales Face Certain Death
In the Pacific Northwest killer whales are dying slowly.
Whales facing the greatest danger are those with high contamination of PCBs in countries such as
Brazil, the U.K., and the Strait of Gibraltar
Whales, however, were thriving in areas such as the Arctic, Iceland, Norway and Alaska.
These areas were insulated from PCBs.
“It is like a killer whale apocalypse,” says Paul Jepson at the Zoological Society of London, part of the international research team behind the new study.
“Even in a pristine condition they are very slow to reproduce.”
Healthy killer whales take 20 years to reach peak sexual maturity and 18 months to gestate a calf.
His statement was echoed by ORCA a whale conservation group.
“With a shocking 50 per cent of orcas set to be wiped out by PCBs alone, our abysmal failures to control chemical pollution ending up in our oceans has caused a killer whale catastrophe on an epic scale.”