Letters to the Editor

Environment: Orcas face extinction

Hi my name is Kayla Jones and I am 14. I wrote this letter and I am planning on sending it to the president.

There was a petition made in August of 2002. The petition was written and sent out by The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). It contained a request to put the killer whales of Puget Sound as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

I believe that this request is reasonable. According to a report by Dr. Martin Taylor, population biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, the Southern Resident Orcas will be showing a 95 percent decline, and that they will be extinct for certain within the next 150 years. Recent studies show that orcas in Puget Sound have decreased by 20 percent in the last five years. Also, another study shows that killer whales will be extinct in less that 300 years, due just to the fact that they are dying of ingesting contaminated fish.

Over the years, highly toxic chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PSBs), have been found in the orcas’ blubber. Controlling pollution and oil spills will help prevent the extinction of the killer whales.

“These killer whales can now be considered among the most contaminated marine mammals in the world,” said Dr. Peter Ross, research scientist with the institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, B.C. These animals have weakened immune systems and are highly vulnerable to rampaging diseases.

“With the population so small, they could be wiped out with a virus,” said Rich Osborne, science curator at the Whale museum on San Juan Island.

The request of putting killer whales of Puget Sound as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, is a reasonable request. At the very least, the government should take action to get rid of the growing threats of pollutants, oil spills, salmon loss and unregulated boat traffic, that could save killer whales.

Kayla Jones

Oak Harbor

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