Subject: Info: Whales among victims still suf (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita)
Mon, 19 Jan 1996 14:42:47

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Date: Fri, 19 Jan 1996 14:27:52 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Williamson <pita@whale.simmons.edu>
Subject: Info: Whales among victims still suf (fwd)
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 96 12:39:00 UTC 0000
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Whales among victims still suf
 
Whales among victims still suffering from spill
 
    By Yereth Rosen
     ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan 18 (Reuter) - A pod of killer whales
that swam through spilled oil from the Exxon Valdez in 1989 is
still suffering from the pollution and likely will die
eventually from the effect, said scientists attending a
conference here this week.
     The A-B whale pod -- the most visible and prominent group of
orcas around Prince William Sound -- has shrunk by a third since
the Exxon Valdez oil disaster, said Craig Matkin, a marine
mammal specialist from Homer, Alaska.
     "The decline is pretty directly attributable to the spill.
It's probably a direct result of being in oil," said Matkin,
who said the pod size is now 22 compared to its pre-spill level
of 36.
     The whales are among the still-suffering victims of the
nation's worst oil spill, which dumped 11 million gallons into
the sound.
     Matkin said he believes the orcas are doomed because their
complex social structure was ripped apart by deaths of females
and juveniles. Now some members of the pod spend their days
swimming alone, and the normally gregarious animals are likely
to die alone, he said.
     "With the A-B pod, I'm doubtful that they would recover,"
he said.
     Matkin released results of his study at a three-day
scientific conference held by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee
Council, the federal and state panel administering money paid by
Exxon to settle goverment lawsuits.
     Another pod that uses the sound, the transient A-T pod, is
also faltering in the spill's aftermath, Matkin said.
     One theory is that the whales are suffering because of a
loss of harbour seals, a prey species for the transient pods.
     The sound's population of harbour seals -- falling even
before the 1989 spill -- is still declining at about 6 percent a
year, scientists said.
     Seabirds, otters and other animals have also suffered
declines since the spill, scientists said at the conference,
which ended Thursday.