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Apr 13, 2017 12:31 PM EDT

What Killer Whales Can Teach Humans About Climate Change [Video]

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Shocking Japanese whaling footage shows barbaric hunt in Australian whale sanctuary

John Durban and Holly Fearnbach, biologists from the US National Marine Fisheries Service, have spotted a pod of killer whales along the Weddel Sea in the Southern Ocean. Apparently, the researchers were there to answer some vital questions about global warming.

For one, Durban and Fearnbach hope to determine the health of Antarctic whales through the type of the food they eat. On the other hand, they wish to know how much prey is available in the Southern waters given the rising temperatures. Lastly, they ought to find the same group of whales seen in previous years, because absence means migration or death.

According to The Atlantic, these questions matter because killer whales are seriously affected by changes in their environment. On the contrary, these marine creatures heavily shape their surroundings too. For the record, killer whales or orcas are actually dolphins due to their dorsal fins. They live as long as humans do, but they give very few births.

Otherwise known to be Antarctic's top predator, orcas suffer the most damage whenever changes happen in the food chain. In fact, Durban said in previous media statements that "in order for them to be healthy," the ecosystem must be healthy. The primary diet of these animals are seals, penguins, and even minke whales.

The experts eventually found a group of 25 killer whales, believed to be Type B2's, rubbing their bellies on icebergs to clean their skin. Basically, any change in weight for the whales means something wrong is going on in the food chain. Thus, people would know that climate is changing. Also, their behaviors (such as the inability to dive or the need to stay on the surface longer) would tell humans that the world has a problem.

Unfortunately, per Smithsonian, killer whales are at risk of being endangered as humans hunt them for food. Actually, a recent incident in the Caribbean caused the lives of two killer whales. They were killed in front of two tourist boats whose passengers only want to watch them swim. A whale conservation group called Sea Shepherd condemned this activity and urged to government to stop commercial whaling in the area.

Captain Paul Watson and the rest of the Sea Shepherd crew recently triumphed against Japanese whalers. The latter failed to meet their quota for this hunting season and went home almost empty handed. Out of 935 expected minke whale kills, the Japanese whalers only got 333.

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