B.C. killer whales choking on boat exhaust: Study

Wildlife News



A southern resident killer whale and her calf off Victoria. The creatures are exposed to vessels for an average 12 hours a day during the height of the whale-watching season, the study by zoologist Cara Lachmuth found.

Photograph by: Mark Malleson, Special to Times Colonist

VICTORIA — B.C.'s endangered population of southern resident killer whales face serious health issues from the exhaust emissions of pleasure and whale-watching boats, a study by a Victoria zoologist has found.

Over 2 1/2 years, Cara Lachmuth studied vehicle traffic and atmospheric conditions near the endangered southern resident killer whale population, which currently has 87 members.

What she observed is "worrying," Lachmuth said in an interview Thursday.

"We're right at the threshold of where you would expect to see health effects," said Lachmuth.

"Right now, there are no limits on the number of boats that can whale-watch. If you want to go fishing, you need a permit, but with whale-watching that doesn't exist."

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