Updated: January 30, 2012
SIDNEY, British Columbia -- A plan to tag the endangered southern resident killer whales that ply both sides of the international boundary between Canada and the USA is meeting with growing opposition, now on the Canadian side of the border. Despite efforts between Canada and the United States to develop a coordinated strategy for the recovery of these endangered whales, a unilateral decision was made by the US federal government (NOAA) to attach satellite tags to the bodies of resident killer whales.
"The nominal information that might be generated from deploying these invasive tags to the fins of endangered killer whales simply does not justify the risk of serious injury resulting from the tags" said Raincoast biologist Misty MacDuffee.
"Yes, we would all like to know more about the movement of killer whales, especially during the winter, but these tags are unlikely to provide that information on their own. This is a small, exceptionally vulnerable population of whales where the loss of individuals from any ensuing infection could have broader implications. The risk to individual and population health from this type of invasive research simply isn't worth it," said Raincoast science director Dr. Chris Darimont.
Information from the tags would provide data on location only, and only for the animal tagged, not necessarily the whole pod of whales, and for only the limited time the tag remains attached to the whale. These are long-lived animals that hunt for salmon up and down of coast North America. Having a snapshot of their position in these waters will not paint a picture of their ecology and biology over the lifetime (up to 100 years) of these animals.
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