In this image provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment orca Takara helps guide her newborn to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in San Antonio. (Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP)
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Harbor seals, sea lions and some fish-eating killer whales have been rebounding along the Northeast Pacific Ocean in recent decades. But that boom has come with a trade-off: They're devouring more of the salmon prized by a unique but fragile population of endangered orcas.Competition with other marine mammals for the same food may be a bigger problem than fishing, at least in recent years, for southern resident killer whales that spend time in Washington state's Puget Sound, a new study suggests.The study found killer whales, which increased from 292 to 644, ate the most salmon in terms of biomass or weight, while harbor seals ate the greatest numbers of salmon, mostly juvenile fish.Scientists also found certain populations of fish-eating resident killer whales in southeast Alaska and Canada waters ate a lot more salmon. Puget Sound orcas consume adult chinook salmon – also called king salmon because they're the largest – that migrate back to Puget Sound waters.
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