Featured Image Source: Doug Marine/ Minden Pictures
The Southern Resident Orcas in the Pacific Northwest region are a population struggling for survival. Through the years pollution, noisy waters, and a decking food source has left their numbers dwindling.
Unfortunately, researchers have pinpointed another problem for these whales to contend with.
Salmon researchers noticed a trend that more of these whales died in even years than odd years. The pattern correlates to the return of pink salmon which come into the Salish Sea every other year in outstanding numbers.
It seems that the return of these salmon interferes with the orcas’ ability to hunt their preferred prey, Chinook salmon.
Although there is a correlation in the data, the researchers have not yet determined the exact cause of it. They have published their findings in an attempt to get the word out but know there is more research to be done.
One of the authors, Greg Ruggerone, said “the main point was getting out to the public word about this biennial pattern so people can start thinking about this important completely unexpected factor in the decline of these whales. It’s important to better understand what’s occurring here because that could help facilitate recovery actions.”
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