Whales are in trouble | AspenTimes.com

Whales are in trouble

Dear Editor:I believe there is an urgent threat to the world’s population of whales. This threat began when countries started to use factory ships to kill many whales at a time, and it continues today causing death of hundreds of whales each year. Seven of the world’s great whales are currently on the Endangered Species List. Along with whaling, there are many other factors causing the whale populations to decline.Ocean pollution is putting toxic chemicals into whales’ fat, which can transfer through females’ milk to the young. When whales migrate from warmer waters to cooler, they fast. As they break down their body fat during these fasts, the toxins can essentially poison the whales to death over time. Global warming is being harmful too, as ozone depletion takes place over the Arctic. Melting glaciers are causing a lack of food for the whales. Whales feed on organisms like krill, which in turn feed on algae that grows around the circumference of the Arctic glaciers. When the glaciers melt, there is less room for the krill to feed, making the krill population decline. This not only affects the ocean’s food-chain, but it also affects the whales’ food source in particular. The warmer waters are also attracting non-native species from more tropical regions to intrude and compete with the food in the whales’ habitat.Whaling is probably the largest threat to whales. Countries like Japan, Norway, and Iceland have been breaking the treaty with the International Whaling Convention (IWC) that states that whaling should be prohibited to preserve the species. It’s even done illegally in some places. Protecting the oceans’ biodiversity is an important task, and keeping species off of the Endangered Species List is vital.The most endangered of the whale species is the West Pacific Great Whale, with only around one hundred remaining. The Great Blue Whale’s population is down to around 1 percent of its original population before whaling took place. Anti-whaling countries like Australia and New Zealand are pushing for the ban of all whale catches and are calling for whale sanctuaries all over the world.There needs to be less pollution in waters, less intrusion into pristine habitats, and less fossil fuel burning in general. I urge those who feel that whales should be preserved to educate themselves about the issue of decreasing whale populations, to do what they can to save the whales, and to support the organizations and conventions that aim to deal with this issue.Luke GottliebCarbondale

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