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Prince William Sound's Fading Orca Pod Provides Lessons For Scientists

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:12 PM
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Prince William Sound's Fading Orca Pod Provides Lessons For Scientists
ANCHORAGE − "It's probably too late to save a small pod of killer whales whose numbers plummeted after the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. But scientists said all may not be lost. The legacy of the AT1 group -- now numbering as few as seven orcas -- could be what is learned to help other whales.

"We need to do whatever we can," said Bridget Mansfield, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries specialist who led a three-hour discussion Wednesday on what should go into a recovery plan. "Realistically, I think it is really hard to say we can do anything to save this group." Craig Matkin, a marine mammal biologist with the North Gulf Oceanic Society who has been studying the whales since the 1980s, agreed. "You have to be damned optimistic to think they can be saved," he said.

EDIT

Eleven members have not been seen since 1989 when the Exxon Valdez ran aground. One of those whales is known to have died and the others are presumed to be dead. Numbers have continued to slip. With such a small group, the females likely are suffering from "incest avoidance behavior," said Lance Barrett-Lennard, a research scientist at the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia who has worked with Matkin and other North Gulf Oceanic Society researchers. Data shows pod members are closely related. "Effectively, they've run out of mates," Barrett-Lennard said.

To make matters worse, a necropsy on a male in 2000, showed high levels of DDT and PCBs, probably from chemical plants in China and Southeast Asia. It's also unknown whether the whales are still suffering from the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Matkin said. When the spill first occurred, the whales probably died from inhaling the oil and were sickened from eating oil-coated seals. Studies have been insufficient to determine what effects there are now, he said."

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http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=364
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Dem2theMax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-16-04 04:57 AM
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1. Can't even put into words what we humans are doing to our home.
:cry:
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lynx rufus Donating Member (219 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-17-04 02:35 PM
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2. I have to join you
:cry:
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