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Archive for January 15th, 2016

Toxic Chemicals in European Waters Threaten Extinction of Orcas

Posted by feww on January 15, 2016

Killer whales blubber contained “highest concentrations of PCBs on the planet” —Report

Cetaceans are facing the threat of extinction in European waters due to persistent toxic chemicals banned as far back as the 1980s, according to research led by international conservation charity the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The research, based on long-term studies of more than 1,000 stranded or biopsied whales, dolphins and porpoises – collectively known as cetaceans – found that the blubber of killer whales (Orcinus orca), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) in Europe contain among the highest concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on the planet.

“The long life expectancy and position as apex or top marine predators make species like killer whales and bottlenose dolphins particularly vulnerable to the accumulation of PCBs through marine food webs. Our findings show that, despite the ban and initial decline in environmental contamination, PCBs still persist at dangerously high levels in European cetaceans,” said Dr Paul Jepson, lead author and specialist wildlife veterinarian at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.

“Few coastal orca populations remain in western European waters. Those that do persist are very small and suffering low or zero rates of reproduction. The risk of extinction therefore appears high for these discrete and highly contaminated populations. Without further measures, these chemicals will continue to suppress populations of orcas and other dolphin species…”


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What Happened in Latin America Last May?

Posted by feww on January 15, 2016

“Unusual phenomenon” produces destructive waves, storm surge

An unusual phenomenon between 2 and 4 May 2015 produced two-meter-high waves on the Pacific Ocean side of Latin America, killing a number of people, forcing scores of people to flee their homes and destroying or damaging buildings,  roads and infrastructure.

The El Salvadoran coast was among the hardest hit, with damage across the entire coastal line in the departments of Ahuachapán, Sonsonate, La Libertad, La Paz, San Vicente, Usulután and La Union. More than 1,300 people were evacuated: 514 were in shelters and 1,270 were providing their own shelter. Another segment of the population had migrated to areas where they had access to family shelters and to the Chapina Garita area. (IFRC, 16 May 2015).

Strong winds generated high waves and swells in coastal areas of several countries in the region, affecting the populations and infrastructure.

Several people were killed or reported as missing in coastal areas of Chile, Panama and El Salvador. hundreds of others were forced to evacuate house and hotels on the Pacific coast.

In Guatemala, about 500 people were evacuated due to the damage caused by the storm surge that traveled more than one kilometer inland.

The phenomenon also affected other countries including Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and Honduras, among others, causing damage to houses, hotels and roads. (OCHA, 4 May 2015).

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