Killer Whales Will Move Into the Arctic Ocean As More Sea Ice Melts Each Summer

As the Arctic sea ice melts, it makes room for the ocean’s apex predators, killer whales, who even feed on other whales. More and more sightings of killer whales, or orcas, have been reported in the Canadian Arctic.

Killer whales are not well-adapted to the Arctic, as evidenced by their large dorsal fins. But because of climate change, they are able to access waters in the Arctic Ocean that they were unable to previously. This has raised concerns about the killer whales altering the region’s ecosystem, on top of concerns about climate change in general.

WWF Arctic species specialist Pete Ewins says:

“Receding sea ice and the resulting increase of orcas in the Arctic are ecosystem impacts we are already experiencing as a result of climate change. When new predators like orcas move in, they can change the entire ecosystem. In the face of these ever increasing, deeply concerning changes, we need leadership and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the best interest of people, the Arctic and the entire planet.”

So far, killer whales have only ventured into the Canadian Arctic. But it’s possible they will continue to move further north, deeper into the Arctic Ocean, in the future. More research is needed to confirm their exact movements.

Photo by Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith / CC BY-SA 2.0

Featured image by Alan / CC BY 2.0

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