Photo Credit: Gord Kurbis/CTV News
Earlier this month we shared the tragic news about a young killer whale found stranded and dead in the Pacific Northwest.
We’ve been waiting for test results to determine exactly why this killer whale died, and now that the necropsy is complete, we can assure you the results are heartbreaking.
Here’s what we know:
J32, aka Rhapsody, Was Starving To Death
When biologists and scientists performed the necropsy, they discovered that the female orca had a thin layer of blubber that was also oil free. This means that she was experiencing a prolonged period of malnutrition. She and her unborn calf were starving.
Killer Whale Calfs Are Dying In The Wild
Adding to the tragedy of this whales untimely death is the fact that she was pregnant. In the past three years, the Southern Resident Killer Whale population has not seen a killer whale calf survive. Right now, there is a 100% mortality rate for killer whale calfs in the Pacific Northwest.
Killer Whale Prey Is Toxic And Disappearing
The main source of food for the Southern Resident Killer Whales is salmon. Over the past few decades, numerous environmental issues have depleted salmon stocks past the point of sustainability.
Read the scientific paper about killer whale food stock here.
Researchers have found that the salmon that killer whales are feeding on is toxic and contain dangerous chemicals that have turned this entire pod of orcas into what scientists are considering the world’s “most toxic animals.”
Read the NOAA report here
If this issue isn’t resolved, these whales will disappear. The only place people will be able to see killer whales on the West Coast will be at SeaWorld San Diego.
SeaWorld Is Not The Problem With The Southern Resident Killer Whales
The graph above paints a picture of the population for the Southern Resident Killer Whales.
SeaWorld stopped collecting killer whales from the Southern Resident pods in 1966; other marine parks continued to collect killer whales in the Pacific Northwest until 1973 when the population bottomed out at 66 members.
Over time, the Southern Residents bounced back to a peak population of 98 members in 1995. Since the peak in 1995, the population has been in decline … and it has NOTHING to do with SeaWorld.
After examining this tragic death, the persecution of SeaWorld and other zoological organizations by animal activists is reckless and irresponsible. SeaWorld is the only zoological organization in the world that has the expertise, resources and facilities to address the complex issues facing the declining population of Southern Resident Killer Whales.
Fact: There are only around 12 female Southern Resident Killer Whales left that are capable of having calves.
Fact: No killer whale at SeaWorld has ever died of starvation.
Fact: In the past 3 years, there have been no successful killer whale births among Southern Resident Killer Whales. In the past 4 years, SeaWorld has seen the successful births of 5 killer whales.
Fact: In 2014, SeaWorld funded a project to study and assess the Southern Resident Killer Whale population’s food sources and identify potential long term solutions.
If you are an animal activist, and you truly care about the welfare and wellbeing of animals, put down your signs, stop the angry tweets, and join SeaWorld and other great nonprofits as they work to save this endangered population of orcas in the Pacific Northwest.
Fact: Together we can #SaveThePod