Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
Press release n°11
Several species of large and small cetaceans frequent the coastal waters of eastern Japan and are in the area affected by the liquid and atmospheric radioactive effluent discharged by the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In particular, this concerns sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, Minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and dolphins. Their lifespan, diet and position at the top of the marine food chain expose them all to the bioaccumulation of chemical and radioactive pollutants.
Already contaminated by levels of PCBs and mercury that are higher that Japanese health regulations prescribe, marine mammals are nevertheless exposed to radioactive poison along with the influx of floating waste transported by the tsunami; plastic items act as lures for marine mammals. Sometimes, they are ingested instead of plankton and cephalopods.
With the release of chemicals and radioactive matter, cetaceans around Japan and in the North West Pacific are confronted by an accumulation and synergy of different types of pollution; enemies which are more devastating still than the harpoons.
Robin des Bois is an observer with the International Whaling Commission. The next plenary meeting will take place in July on the island of Jersey.