British Columbia’s southern population of orcas may be in trouble, a point emphasized last weekend when one of the orcas washed up dead on shore, its body highly contaminated with PCBs, dangerous human-made toxins. Tests on the dead whale’s body have not yet been completed, but a 1996 biopsy of the same whale found PCB concentrations of about 63 parts per million — 90 times the normal concentration found in orcas and humans. Some enviros are arguing that the whale carcass is so contaminated that it should be treated as toxic waste. This most recent death brings the number of orcas in the region to 82, down from 98 four years ago. Aside from PCB contamination, the whales are threatened by declining salmon stocks and increasing boat traffic.
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