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Best of Blue Dot: What's killing killer whales?

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Dave talks to wildlife veterinarian Joe Gaydos from the Sea Doc Society (a research center on Orcas Island in the Salish Sea off the Washington Coast) and UC Davis along with NOAA marine wildlife biologist Dawn Noren as they examine the lives and deaths of one of the Earth's apex predators: Killer Whales.

Both were part of a multi-year study investigating the deaths of whales, mostly in the Pacific Northwest, to determine their cause of death.

Many, it was found, were killed by blunt force trauma due to incidents with boats and ships. Others had more complex causes but often were linked to human activity.

But in addition to the study, Dave, Dawn, and Joe explore the fascinating lives of Orcas, with their complex matriarchal societies, fascinating hunting strategies, and distinctive subspecies based on where they hunt and travel or, in some cases, such as in the Pacific Northwest, reside year-round.

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Stranded Killer Whale Undergoing Examination
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Joseph Gaydos

Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.