Friday, September 9, 2011

Visser's View

New Zealand's very own whale woman is getting international exposure for her orca research.
Ingrid Visser from Tutukaka-based Orca Research Trust has starred in a BBC doco The Woman Who Swims with Killer Whales, which follows Dr Visser's research on NZ orca. Within hours of its UK screening last week, her website had more than 5000 hits.
As well as showing amazing underwater footage of the orca hunting stingray, the documentary also looks into what's killing killer whales. Dr Visser is concerned about the impact of chemicals such as PCBs and DDT. As orca are the top of the food chain, they ingest all of the chemicals their food has ingested, and orca have the highest levels of PCBs and DDT in their system than any other marine mammal in NZ [PCB = polychlorinated biphenyls; DDT = dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane]. The use of PCBs and DDT has been banned since the 1970s but their residue leaves a legacy in the marine environment. But an even more worrying trend is the increasing amount of modern flame retardant chemicals found in NZ orca, because these have no regulation or restriction: "Because they're unregulated chemicals, they're going to increase rapidly. Once they're in the environment we can't go back."
The doco will next be screened in the US and Dr Visser hopes to run fundraising premier nights before it airs here. Go to Dr Visser's website for more information.

No comments: