This is depressing:
Young Puget Sound orcas have more potentially toxic flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies than their elders, adding to evidence that the controversial chemicals could be hurting the endangered animals, according to a new report by Canadian and U.S. researchers.
Depressing, but perhaps not surprising. As top predators, orcas carry particularly heavy burdens of troublesome toxics—compounds that adhere to fat, and that magnify in concentration at every successive step of the food chain. But orca babies are at the very tippy-top of the food chain; their milk comes from some of the most contaminated mothers on the planet.
Which makes Washington’s flame retardant ban all the more important—not just to orcas, but to all of the rest of us perched up on the top of the food chain.
On a trip out to the Center for Whale Research in San Juan Island, I learned that a nursing mother ends up releasing most of her toxins in her milk. It serves the purpose of “cleaning” the mother out, but the baby (particularly the first baby to be born) bears the brunt of this toxic milk. The good news is that subsequent babies do not have it as bad, as the mother has not had the time to absorb the same amount of toxins before the birth of a second or third. Cold comfort, though, for the first born.