High levels of contaminants in Southern Resident killer whales (SRKW) are one of the primary threats to the whales, according to a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report. ‘Exposure to a Mixture of Toxic Chemicals’ discusses how persistent organic pollutants are affecting the whales and what next steps are needed to more fully understand and address this threat. SRKW occur in the inland waters of Washington and British Columbia during late spring, summer, and autumn, however less is known about their movements in the winter, apart from they frequent coastal waters from California to southeast Alaska. Some uncertainties and data gaps still need to be addressed but the report provides summaries of the projects currently in progress and recommendations for future work that can guide management actions to advance the recovery of this whale population.
Photo Credit: NOAA