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Melting Arctic ice draws killer whales further north

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Antarctic Killer Whales’ new hunting grounds are leading to unprecedented conflict with humans.

NORWAY: In the pale winter darkness of northern Norway, a huge flock of seagulls circles above an Arctic fjord, signifying the presence of a group of unusual predators in the water below.

With Arctic sea ice shrinking at record levels due to global warming, killer whales are expanding their hunting grounds further north and spending more time in polar waters, US scientists say.

But the giant mammals, also known as orcas and which are at the top of the food chain, risk creating an “ecological imbalance” in the Arctic by preying on endangered species, warned a University of Washington study this month.

70 to 80 killer whales could be seen gathering in family clans of about 10, including calves under a year old in the vast Skjervoy fjord in the Arctic Ocean. Franz Josef Land, so they are clearly following the edge of the ice,” said Marie-Anne Blanchet of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

The killer whale, which with a global population estimated at 50,000 is found in almost all of the world’s seas, feeds on Arctic prey such as the beluga whale and, most likely, some species of seal, the specialist said.

Arctic sea ice, which is also getting thinner, has shrunk on average by more than 13 percent per decade over the past 40 years. By the end of the summer of 2012, it had reached its lowest level on record, at 3.4 million square kilometres (1.4 million square miles), almost half the size it was during the 1980s. – THE BANGKOK POST

Monday, December 20, 2021 – 01:00

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