Scientists indicate that killer whales or orcas exhale an array of bacteria, fungi, and salmonella. Researchers collected information regarding orcas’ bad breath and established that the infectious illnesses in the endangered Puget Sound killer whale population indicate that their marine environment could be contaminated with human waste. Researchers have developed this analysis on a four-year timespan.
Specialists believe that these bacteria come from human waste
They followed orcas swimming in Washington state waters, and they waited for these creatures to surface and then breath out. Researchers on boats used a 25-foot long pole to reach the area above their blowholes to collect the drops which were sprayed out. The samples collected unveiled good bacteria, but also disease-triggering ones. Moreover, some of them proved to be extremely resistant to antibiotics.
Scientists determined that these might have come from human detritus which entered their ecosystem. Researchers revealed some bacteria which really worried them. They uncovered Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella which were identified in both the seawater samples and the breath samples of killer whales. Stephen Raverty, the lead author of the study and veterinary pathologist, claimed that these creatures are collecting the bacteria living in their environment
Killer whales which have a deficient immune system develop many diseases
Experts explained that marine animals usually swim through urban waterways and they come in contact with a broad range of human-based stressors, like objects flushed down the toilet or agricultural overflow. Orcas which have weak immunity are bound to be more vulnerable and may contract the bacteria floating in the water, causing respiratory problems.
Scientists have already subjected killer whales to several stressors which may impair their immune system. Nevertheless, researchers did not determine yet how dangerous could these bacteria be to whales. They also stated that particular types of bacteria could be normal, while others could trigger a wide range of diseases.
Respiratory conditions are known to be a factor which may trigger the death of a whale. Approximately 40% of killer whales had been discovered to have a lung infection which was severe enough to lead to death several times. The findings were published in the Scientific Reports magazine. Now, orcas returned to Puget Sound to spend their spring here. They are situated along the northwestern coast of Washington and some areas of the Pacific Ocean and the Salish Sea. Researchers need to develop a personal health record for endangered whales.
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