By Youth Ocean Advocate Lindsy M.
FACT: Transient and southern resident orcas are considered to be among the most PCB contaminated mammals on the planet.
It is no secret that the Puget Sound has been in a lot of trouble with pollution, but what does this pollution mean for the animals living in the area? Unfortunately nothing good. Common pollutants in the Puget Sound region include PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenthyl’s) which are, in essence, persistent organic pollutants that negatively affect the ocean ecosystems. The majority of these PCB’s that are found in our ocean, are derived from runoff that, with all of the rain in Seattle, constantly flows from cars onto roads and sidewalks right into the Puget Sound. The many marine species found in the Puget Sound are affected by this runoff in their own ways. For example, “…Transient and southern resident orcas are considered to be among the most PCB contaminated mammals on the planet.” They also affect harbor seals making the statistic that “Harbor seals in Puget Sound are seven times more contaminated with the persistent toxic chemicals known as PCBs than those living in Canada’s Strait of Georgia, which adjoins the Sound” terrifyingly true. These are just two of the common species the Puget Sound residents tend to favor, however, there are many other species at serious risk because of the pollutants. With the massive increase in development in the Puget Sound Region, this type of runoff is becoming more and more prominent. As a solution, using public transportation, biking, or walking, can help tremendously by lowering the amount of toxic chemicals in the runoff.
Cullon, D. L., S. J. Jefferies, P. Ross, 2005, “Persistent organic pollutants in the diet of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) inhabiting Puget Sound, Washington (USA), and the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia (Canada): a food basket approach,” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 24 (10); pp. 2562–2572
Ross pearson communications, 2009; Ross P.S., G. M. Ellis, M. G. Ikonomou, L. G. Barrett Lennard and R.F. Addison, 2000, “High PCB Concentrations in Free Ranging Pacific Killer Whales, Orcinus orca: Effects of Age, Sex and Dietary Preference,” Marine Pollution Bulletin, Vol 40, 6: 504515