Currently, many cetaceans face a hostile environment, since some of their populations have decreased and their specimens are already becoming scarce. One of these cetaceans are the killer whales which, although not officially listed as an endangered species, are vulnerable to multiple natural and anthropogenic threats.
In AgroCorrn we consider it very important to report on the serious state of various species and, therefore, we compile some of the reasons why the killer whale is in danger of extinction and information about these marine mammals and some actions to help them recover and avoid, as well , its extinction.
- Killer whale characteristics
- Why the killer whale is in danger of extinction: main causes
- Human threats that are the cause of endangered killer whales
- How to help endangered killer whales
Killer whale characteristics
Orcas are cetaceans that are classified within the Delphinidae family , which means that orcas could be considered the largest dolphins . They are often popularly known as killer whales , because they feed on other marine mammals such as dolphins or seals, although they do not kill humans, and spend up to 60% of their time in search of food traveling hundreds of kilometers. They can achieve this thanks to the fact that they are excellent swimmers, reaching up to 50 km per hour, and being able to easily reach deep waters. An orca can consume up to 5% of its body weight daily, which would give us an approximate average of 230 kg of food per day.
Killer whales are animals that are grouped in herds made up of 6 to 40 individuals, where the members can communicate with each other through various specific vocalizations of each individual . Their gestation period lasts around 16 to 17 months and they generally give birth to a single young. As soon as they are born, the young are suckled on mother’s milk that is high in fat and protein.
Killer whales inhabit all the world’s oceans , but most of them are found in cold waters. There are also many living in captivity, although in these conditions they usually live up to 30 years less than in freedom and there have been some accidents with human beings, even causing deaths of both species.
Also, as a bonus, did you know that the false killer whale exists? Here we discover the Difference between killer whale and false killer whale .
To complete this information, learn more about the characteristics of these marine mammals in this other AgroCorrn article on How orcas are classified .
Why the killer whale is in danger of extinction: main causes
Focusing now on the main causes that orcas are in danger of extinction , we want to clarify that, although the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) includes orcas in the category of ‘insufficient data’ (DD), in fact there is already data more recent than the last update of this list that shows that some of their populations are in danger .
Since the first years of mankind there has been an observation and hunting of cetaceans and they have been their main threats. However, over the years the human population has been increasing exponentially, cities have developed more and more and the needs of the human species have been growing and diversifying, so their threats to these animals and towards others they have also grown.
The dangers for orcas include natural hazards in their habitat and which arise as a result of the activities of man. Natural risks are those that occur on any animal in the wild and usually do not represent a great danger to world populations unless they are epidemics. For example, killer whales suffer from fungal, bacterial, or parasite infections. They also suffer from diseases such as lymphomas, tumors, stomach ulcers or dermatological problems. In the case of killer whales, given their immense size, they do not have regular predators, but sometimes there may be some such as groups of sharks and, as we have already indicated, humans.
Human threats that are the cause of endangered killer whales
Among the threats that derive from different human activities and that turn out to be a large part of the cause that the killer whales are in danger are:
Commercial killer whale hunting
Although orcas are not among the most captured cetaceans, they have been hunted to obtain and use their meat, skin, fat or some internal organs. Some Arctic tribes have hunted killer whales for their subsistence, even in modern times. It is also common to hunt to trade with the bodies, which, although it has been reduced, still continues in countries like Japan, Indonesia, Greenland or some areas of the Caribbean.
Here we talk more about the Causes and consequences of poaching animals .
Orcas captured for display in zoos
Killer whales are highly intelligent animals capable, for example, of learning and performing stunts. This fact makes them attractive to humans, who capture them for aquarium displays.
Pollution of their habitats
Pollution of the waters in which they live affects their health and survival. For example, the presence of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) in some coastal areas or dangerous accidental oil spills, both directly and through the reduction of its dams.
Excess noise in the oceans
Killer whales perform echolocation, so they are very sensitive to military and industrial activities, as they disorient them and end up stranded on beaches and dying, for example.
Killer whale food reduction
Killer whale prey numbers are also reduced by habitat pollution, overfishing or any other imbalance, indirectly affecting killer whale survival.
Killer whales can be injured by collision with any type of boat. These wounds can be minor or serious with the possibility of worsening and causing the death of the specimen.
Increased temperatures or water levels can affect their composition, deteriorating their habitats and also leading to the death of their prey.
In this other article you can learn more about how climate change affects biodiversity .
Problems with fishermen
Some killer whales can steal fish caught by fishermen with large nets and sometimes be seriously injured during this process.
How to help endangered killer whales
It is really important to protect animals, especially those who are in this situation or are close to it; here we explain why it is important to protect endangered animals .
Some of the actions and measures that we can take to protect orcas that are in danger of extinction are:
- Support in collaboration with different organizations, associations and government proposals to end the illegal trafficking of species and stop poaching and relaxed legal hunting.
- Report cases of illegal trafficking of endangered or threatened animals that we discover.
- Be much more ecological.
- Use public transport and also the different clean transports, such as cycling, rollerblading, walking, etc.
- Do not encourage parks and zoos that keep these animals in captivity.
- If we go on an excursion or travel through the areas of the waters inhabited by wild killer whales, let’s not get dirty, let’s not disturb them, etc.
If you want to read more articles similar to Why the killer whale is in danger of extinction , we recommend that you enter our category of Endangered Animals .
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