Sperm whales feeding even in the most remote reaches of Earth’s oceans have built up stunningly high levels of toxic and heavy metals, according to American scientists who say the findings spell danger not only for marine life but for the millions of humans who depend on seafood.
A report released Thursday noted high levels of cadmium, aluminum, chromium, lead, silver, mercury and titanium in tissue samples taken by dart gun from nearly 1,000 whales over five years.
From polar areas to equatorial waters, the whales ingested pollutants that may have been produced by humans thousands of miles away, the researchers said.
Payne called his group’s $5 million project the most comprehensive report ever done on ocean pollutants. U.S. Whaling Commissioner Monica Medina informed the 88 member nations of the whaling commission of the report and urged the commission to conduct further research.
Human-caused pollution, including deadly toxins and heavy metals, are reaching into the farthest corners of the ocean and into the systems of the largest creatures on earth.
Even if you didn’t care about whales, the fact remains that they are at the top of the food chain, a reflection of what all of the other creatures are consuming, in even the most remote waters.
The fish that some whales eat are also consumed by people—one billion of whom count fish as their primary protein source–and the consequences cannot be avoided. “The entire ocean life is just loaded with a series of contaminants, most of which have been released by human beings,”