Sunday, 19 November 2017

A last refuge for Europe's blighted killer whales

3 November 2017

Europe's killer whales wowed in the BBC's Blue Planet II series but these animals face extinction. Chris Gibson travelled to the small Norwegian island of Kvaløya where the orcas retain a strong foothold. But for how much longer?

It was one of those television moments. The sight of killer whales herding shoals of herring into tighter and tighter balls to trap the prey near the surface of the water.

The killer whales work as a pack of skilful hunters before deploying their secret weapon - tail-slapping the fish so hard they are either dazed or die.

The story behind those shots is even more remarkable.

They were filmed in the majestic Norwegian fjords. These long, narrow inlets are now among the few places in Europe you can see a pod of killer whales.

Across Europe, these cetaceans are declining rapidly.

In the Mediterranean and the North Sea, they have vanished.

Elsewhere, there are now only eight killer whales in the NW Scotland-Ireland population, and only 36 left in the Strait of Gibraltar population.

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