Contaminants in Killer Whales – Lecture 11/18 PTMSC

A member of J Pod passes by PTMSC (photo by Travis Krause)

"Contaminants in Killer Whales"

Thursday, November 18th

Natural History Exhibit

7:00 pm

Gina Ylitalo, a scientist from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, will present information on a range of contaminants currently found in orca populations, such as PCBs, DDT, and flame retardants.The potential health effects of these toxins on other marine mammal species will be discussed as well, including fish.

"Gina was one of the scientists who analyzed the body of the orca, CA-189, who was stranded near Dungeness Spit in 2002," said Anne Murphy, executive director for the PTMSC. "This orca, named Hope by students visiting PTMSC this summer, is at the center of the story we are preparing to tell through our Orca Project, and whose skeleton we will be displaying in our new Ocean Science Hall."

The orca’s blubber when she was found contained a level of contaminants that was among the highest, if not the highest, ever measured in orcas. The PCB level discovered in the orca was dozens of times higher than concentrations know to affect the growth, reproduction and immune system of another marine mammal, the harbor seal.

Gina YlitaloYlitalo has worked for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center since 1989. Her current interests include establishing links between exposure to chemical contaminants and potential health effects on marine mammals and fish. She also works on methods for analyzing new contaminants in marine resources.

Admission to the presentation is $7 (adults), $5 (youth) and for PTMSC members, it’s $5 (adults) and $3 (youth).