Hi Whitney. That sounds like a really great research paper that you're working on. Let me see if I can give you a little information to help you out. First, there are many types of pollution. There is noise pollution (like sounds from ships), plastic (which whales can get tangled in or eat), oil spills (we don't really know the impacts on whales. Most of that information comes from seals, sealions, and sea otters which have lots of hair that gets matted with oil and then the animals get sick from eating the oil), or toxins (like PCBs, organochlorines, heavy metals, etc.). Another consideration is the impact of air pollution. I would suspect that your question was probably about toxins. The whales and dolphins are at the top of the food chain, which means that they may be affected by bioaccumulation of toxins thru the food chain. There is insufficient information to determine how, or at what levels and in what combinations, environmental contaminants may affect whales and dolphins. There is growing evidence for other animals of several physiological abnormalities, including skeletal deformations, developmental effects, reproductive and immunological disorders, and hormonal alterations. It is also possible that the chemicals cause immunosuppression, rendering a dolphin or whale susceptible to diseases. Studies of seals in the North Sea area suggest a link between pollutants and a depressed immune system. Some dolphins that have died during mass strandings, and been infected with morbillivirus also were found to have high levels of contaminants in their boedies. It is very difficult to draw a link between a contaminant and its effect on a whale for many reasons. First, much of the information comes from stranded or dead animals (obviously these are not healthy animals and may not be representative of an actual impact of a chemical). Second, we don't really know how much of a chemical is really bad for a whale/dolphin. The interesting thing is, that dolphins and whales can be used as indicators of the health of the ecosystem, because remember, just like us, they are at the top of the food chain. We can probably assume that what the whales are being exposed to is what we're being exposed to. Hope this answers your question. I realize that this is not very optimistic sounding. Dagmar ______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________ Subject: No Subject Author: PHIL1476@aol.com at ~smtp Date: 2/4/98 10:03 AM Hi! I'm Whitney and I'm writing a research paper on the environmental effects on whales. I was wondering if you have any information on how pollution has affected whales today? Thanks so much! P.S. I home school and I'm in the sixth grade!