An oil spill could be ‘catastrophic’ for British Columbia killer whales

Planet Earth

Source: Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Orca population would not survive an ecological incident, researchers say


The AT1 population of Alaskan transient killer whales were in Prince William Sound at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. 13 members of the 22 member pod died after the spill and more in the following years. Photo: K.Heise


By Nicholas Read, Special To The Sun

March 22, 2010

British Columbia killer whales could become extinct in the long term if an oil spill similar in scope to that from the Exxon Valdez occurred off the coast of B.C., says a conservation biologist with the Universities of Calgary and Manitoba.Paul Paquet, one of the lead scientists on a five-year, 14,000-kilometre survey of marine mammals and sea birds along the coast between 2004 and 2009, says the health of B.C. killer whales is already so fragile thanks to pollution and over-fishing that a major oil spill could devastate them.

The consequences for the population as a whole could be catastrophic, meaning that that population could be pushed over the edge and into a long-term slide to extinction,” Paquet said in an interview. “Given the small population of killer whales and as a population biologist, I don’t think that’s an over-statement. And it is something we should be prepared for.”

Paquet made his remarks to coincide with the release today of a report called What’s at Stake: The Cost of Oil on British Columbia’s Priceless Coast, published by the Raincoast Conservation Society to mark the 21st anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Prince William Sound, Alaska. ...

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The Raincoast Conservation Foundation


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