The last generation: southern resident orcas in danger of extinction

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In the last decade many animal species have been declared extinct with many other in danger of extinction. Among them, the southern orcas.

These mammals that live off the US Pacific coast, are now critically endangered. While in 2005 the Southern Resident Orcas were included on endangered species list under the federal Endangered Species Act, so far the things got even worst. With only 76 individuals left in the wild, southern orcas are the critically endangered marine mammals in the United States. Not a single baby born in 2017 has survived.Two mothers and a great-grandmother have also gone, Endangered Species Coalition reports.

The main reasons of orcas population decline are lack of food, noise pollution, and chemical pollution. More than that, National Geographic warms that over a half of world’s orca population could be soon extinct. The reason, long-lived polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

“A group of chemicals we thought was no longer a threat is still present at concentrations that will continue to pose significant risk,”  Jean-Pierre Desforges said, member of the Arctic Research Centre at Aarhus University in Denmark.

Even if those organic compounds were banned all over the world in the 80’s,  their devastating effects are seen now. As this wasn’t enough, noise pollution made by vessels prevent orcas from using echolocation to track their pray.

And these two factors are linked with the first one, lack of food. As orcas main source of food is Chinook salmon and they are on decline too, orcas are ending up starving. This also leads to pregnancies fail due to nutritional stress, according to Endangered Species Coalition.

As time is running out, we really need to do something. And we have to do it fast. As Endangered Species Coalition also reports, National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s 2016 and 2017 final Recovery Plan for Spring/Summer Chinook admits that despite an extensive list of salmon recovery actions, lower Snake River salmon runs will not recover.