Plan to tag Puget Sound orcas raises worries

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SEATTLE (AP) -- Federal biologists next month plan to attach tiny satellite devices on Puget Sound's endangered orcas to better understand where they go during winter.

But some whale experts worry the tags, about the size of a 9-volt battery with two darts attached, could injure the orcas.

This is the first time dart-tags would be used on the southern resident killer whales that frequent the inland waters of Washington state and British Columbia.

NOAA researcher Brad Hanson says tracking the orcas would pinpoint their range of travel and help inform their critical habitat. He says the whales heal within a few weeks.

But whale expert Ken Balcomb thinks the tags are too invasive. He says the barbs wound the orcas and that the animals could potentially become infected.