February 18, 2009

Calif. salmon may seal fate of whales

U.S. wildlife researchers say threats to California salmon may cause the extinction of a population of Pacific killer whales.

The National Marine Fisheries Service said the southern resident population of killer whales, of which there are only 84, may die if the salmon disappear, The Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday. The Puget Sound whales have been spending more time off the coast of Central California in recent years

The fisheries service said Central Valley salmon that make up most of the whales' diet are imperiled by water diversions through the state's system of dams and canals. The fish will go extinct of water operations aren't changed, a draft report from agency said.

The newspaper said the the fisheries service is expected to make recommendations this spring on new operating rules that would help to protect the fish.