WWF responds to the analysis published today finding that a UK killer whale died with extreme levels of toxic pollutants.
One of the highest concentrations of toxic pollutants ever recorded in a marine mammal has been revealed in a Scottish killer whale that died in 2016.
The adult whale, known as Lulu, was a member of the UK's last resident pod and a post-mortem also showed she had never produced a calf. The pollutants, called PCBs, are known to cause infertility and these latest findings add to strong evidence that the pod is doomed to extinction.
The level of PCBs found in Lulu's blubber were extreme at 950mg/kg, more than 100 times the 9mg/kg limit above which damage to the health of marine mammals is known to occur. A 2016 analysis showed the average concentration for killer whales in the north-east Atlantic was about 150mg/kg.
Simon Walmsley, WWF’s Oceans Manager, comments:
“The shockingly high levels of PCB contamination found in Lulu, the UK killer whale are another tragic example of the impact that we are having on nature. Such high levels of pollution in our oceans, rivers and atmosphere cannot be ignored. This requires action and it requires it fast. We must learn the lessons from these legacy pollutants and not release such contaminants into the environment without a clear understanding of the lasting impacts. In this case PCBs will stay in the environment and continue to pollute for many decades. We are on track to lose two-thirds of wildlife by 2020 and a large driver of this is the way we treat the planet. The results of this analysis must act as a reminder that it is imperative that we continue to strive to find a way that 7bn people can live on our planet without trashing it.”