Genetics could unfold better days for the critically endangered Northwest Orcas

With changes in the global temperature, unchecked water pollution, and unregulated fishing activities, the population of rare species such as the Orcas has been decreasing with each passing day. Currently, these dolphins, also known as the Killer Whales have been marked as critically endangered. However, a newly planned scientific effort is set to sequence the existing genes of the Orcas in order to help save the population from going extinct.

This particular collaboration that was announced on Thursday involved renowned scientists working with National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center along with Nature Conservancy (a non-profit organization) and the BGI which is a globally acclaimed genomics company.

The project is set to sequence the complete genome set with genetic code obtained from living parts of 100+ killer whales found in the Southern hemisphere. These samples were collected over a span of 2 decades and the initial result of the experimentation is expected to unfold by the following year. Scientists suggest that this information could aptly explain the internal factors that might be the reason for decline in the population such as genetic variations of immune systems or the issues such as inbreeding.

The Ocras currently struggle with issues such as pollution, lack of preferred prey like Chinook salmon, and even boat noise. Out of the small lot, 74 have failed to produce any offspring in the last 3 years. The Orcas around the south were classified endangered in 2005 while the current population has dropped down to an all time low of 75.

Harmful pollutants that come down from the waste management factories and the companies such as Boeing could be one of the prime reasons for this decreased rate for reproduction in these water animals. As reported by the renowned newspaper, The New York Times, the theme parks such as SeaWorld acquired 4 dozen from the total population during the 70s and the 80s which could have been a reason for the gene pool to drop down significantly.

The issues surfacing from lack of population isn’t just limited to a particular animal or some area, it is actually a problem affecting the entire ecosystem. Things are completely out of the hand and there needs to be control over the major factors that has been contributing to their current population decline. Although many factors surfaced up during the study of these animals and their surroundings, each one of the factor stream all the way to deteriorating human-based activities.

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