A unique group of killer whales is miscarrying at an astronomical rate, and it’s because humans have wiped out most of their food supply. A recent study in the journal PLOS ONE found that as high as 69 percent of Southern Resident killer whale pregnancies end in failure. These famous whales, which frequent the Salish Sea off Seattle and Vancouver, rely on Chinook salmon for the lion’s share of their diet. Once abundant, Chinook are now rare and the whales are going hungry. The study is the first to demonstrate a clear link between orca miscarriage and poor nutrition brought on by the scarcity of their main prey. Scientists at the University of Washington collected orca feces between 2008 and 2014 to measure hormones that regulate hunger, stress and reproduction. DNA profiling let them track the stages of pregnancy for individual orcas, and figure out when a female became pregnant and at what...
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