Our Readers' Opinions
August 6, 2010
Are whales caught here tested for toxic chemicals?

Fri, Aug 6, 2010

Editor: There are many views on the topic of whaling. Toothed cetaceans such as the killer whale (orca) are at the top of the food chain and hence potentially contain high levels of toxic chemicals due to biomagnification.{{more}}

Handwerk (2005), writing for the National Geographic News, claims that the Arctic’s killer whales are highly contaminated with man-made chemicals and are now reported by a new study to be the region’s most toxic creatures. This has implications for us since we do occasionally consume orca. The world is becoming increasingly toxic.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is not just America’s problem, but also that of the Caribbean and the rest of the world. The systems of the world, our ecosystems, food trade etc. are too interconnected for us to take these things for granted. Whales caught by our fishermen are migrants from other areas and it is important for us to be interested in the toxicity of those waters.

There has been a lot of controversy about the toxicity of one of the dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In addition, the waters inhabited by many cetaceans harbour a lot of toxic chemicals. Baleen whales such as the humpback are known for the great migrations they make. They Travel to temperate regions to feed and travel to the tropics to give birth in the warmer waters.

An important question is whether or not the whales caught here under go any form of testing for toxic chemicals in their bodies.

If not, it might be relevant for us to begin doing so. At least those of us who consume cetaceans should be curious as to what is in the food we eat.

Shamal Connell