- VANCOUVER - A new study
many of the killer whales living
off the coast of British
Columbia are loaded with high levels of PCBs,
the toxic chemicals that
may be killing them off.
- "Killer whales in British Columbia can now be
among the most contaminated animals in the world," says
Ross, of the Institute of Ocean Sciences. "This is a
for British Columbians and other Canadians."
- The whales' problem,
says scientists, is that they're
at the top of the food chain.
Pollutants like PCBs accumulate in fish,
and when whales eat the fish,
the chemicals accumulate in their fat cells.
What scientists don't
know yet is exactly what impact that has.
- Dr. John Ford of Vancouver
Aquarium says researchers
have already seen declines in some
populations but don't have enough evidence
to make the link directly to
high levels of PCBs.
- "We don't know if this is a long-term trend and,
if it is a trend, whether it can be attributed to these PCBs," Ford
says. "We don't know enough about their interaction with the immune
systems of these animals and their general health."
- One pod that's
causing concern is at the southern end
of Vancouver Island, where the
population numbers have fallen 15 per cent
in five years. It's not
- All the researchers know for sure is that PCBs are highly
and the orcas are full of them.