The sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean is reduced. It’s warm enough for these killer whales to come and hunt more.
Killer Whales (Orcas) are known more for their intelligence and adaptation than their size. They have often been seen targeting prey much bigger than them. These predators got a new chance for their blood sport due to the sea-ice reduction in the Arctic. More whales are coming in every year, and there is a rise in ecological imbalance due to this.
Brynn Kimber, an avid researcher from the Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Studies, recently presented a study stating more killer whale tracking in the Alaskan Arctic region due to loss of sea ice. The underwater microphones which were placed in Alaska’s northern and western coasts show that the killer whales have spent more time in the Arctic this year than ever before. There was also a decrease recorded during the summer sea ice.
Killer whales can travel to different locations, nearer or far, to search for prey. The issue with the Arctic region is the ice traps that can kill these water beasts. Despite such hazards, these killer whales are spending more and more time in these waters. The readings of 2012-2019 by a Seattle-based team concluded that this extended stay over these years was the direct result of a sea ice decrease in the area.
Some particular prey species use ice as their shield to hide from predators like these Orcas. Their trick is constantly fading away, making them an easy target for the hunter-killer whales.
Another study by a CICOES researcher conduced in last Fall showed the first proof of killer whales attacking other whales like the bowhead ones in the Arctic. This vulnerability will get even worse due to extended open-water seasons.
The sea-ice minimum is declining by 13% per decade. Killer whales are even observed in the areas where it was almost impossible for them to read. Their presence will have more consistency in the upcoming summers.