Monday, January 26, 2009

Contaminants in Marine Mammals

A recent report by the Canadian government's Institute of Ocean Sciences states that killer whales are among the most polluted marine mammals. One habitat can be found in the Strait of Georgia -"a strait between Vancouver Island (as well as its nearby Gulf Islands) and the mainland Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada."(wiki) Scientists have long believed the buildup of toxins in these mammals comes from ingesting Chinook salmon. "Chinook salmon inhabit ocean waters and rivers polluted by agriculture, pulp mills, other industries, military bases and urban runoff." (Robert Barron, Daily News)

Dr. John Ford, a marine biologist at Nanaimo's Pacific Biological Station has stated, "In other marine mammals where contamination has been studied, like harbour seals in Europe, it has been determined that the pollutants do have impacts on reproductive and immune systems, but we still don't know for sure if it has any impacts on their survivability," he said. "Animals like these are hard to study in the wild."

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