Southern right whales get satelitte tags for first time


This video is called Breeding Southern Right Whales – Attenborough – Life of Mammals – BBC.

From Wildlife Extra:

Right Whales tagged for first time to help solve mystery

For the first time satellite tags are being used to remotely track Southern Right Whales from their breeding/calving grounds in the sheltered bays of Península Valdés, Argentina, to unknown feeding grounds somewhere in the western South Atlantic.

It is hoped the results from the study will help solve why more than 400 Southern Right Whale calves have died between 2003-2011.

Different hypotheses put forward for this mortality include disease, certain types of contaminant, and harassment and wounding by kelp gulls, a frequent occurrence in Península Valdés.

Over the past month, a team of top scientists from a range of organisations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Aqualie Institute of Brazil and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have succeeded in affixing satellite transmitters to five Southern Right Whales in Golfo Nuevo.

This area is one of the two protected gulfs of Península Valdés and an important breeding ground for southern right whales. The team selected calving females and solitary juveniles so they can glean insights into habitat use and migratory movements for different sex and age groups.

“Over the last several centuries, and as recent as the 1960s, southern right whales were hunted, at times close to the verge of extinction. But they have now managed to rebound in numbers thanks to protected refuges such as Península Valdés,” said Dr. Martín Mendez, Assistant Director of WCS’s Latin America and the Caribbean Program.

“The recent increase in mortality is being caused by something that remains unsolved. Determining where the whales go to feed may offer clues to solving this complex question.”

So far the data received shows that two of the five whales have remained in the waters of Golfo Nuevo, while the other three have already left the bay. One of the animals is currently in deep waters of the South Atlantic, one has been spending its time over the continental shelf, and another has moved into deep offshore waters, but has returned to the continental shelf break.

“As the tags continue to transmit, we hope our whales lead us to new insights about their lives in the vastness of the South Atlantic and provide possible clues related to the die-off,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program.

Long-finned pilot whales in England


This 16 November video from England is called Whale herding on the River Medway.

ITV from England writes about this:

17 November 2014 at 5:40pm

Nearly 30 [long-finned] pilot whales spotted in River Medway

Video footage has captured the moment 28 pilot whales swam towards Sheerness yesterday.

The mammals were a mile out in waters off Garrison Point when a river maintenance crew was called to help at 11am to herd them back out to sea.

Sheerness Lifeboat was also on hand to steer the whales away from the busy shipping lane and possible danger.

The operation continued until 5.30pm. By that time, the whales had been escorted a further three miles out to sea and were no longer visible.

Dave Redwood, a member of the Briggs Marine crew based at Peel Ports, posted the video on YouTube.

There have been no reports of any further sightings since.

Long-finned pilot whales near Belgian coast


This is a video about long-finned pilot whales near the Belgian cost, near Blankenberge, on 13 November 2014. Cedric Vandewalle made the video.

This species had not been seen near the Belgian coast ever since 1988.

Polar bear, whale and fish conservation news


This video is about a polar bear and her two cubs.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Governments agree on new protections for polar bears

Convention on Migratory Species meeting in Ecuador adds listings for Cuvier’s beaked-whale, and 21 shark, ray and sawfish

Adam Vaughan

Monday 10 November 2014 14.17 GMT

Polar bears are among 31 species approved for greater protections by more than 100 countries, in a move hailed by conservationists as an important step to saving the endangered mammal.

The Convention on Migratory Species conference in Ecuador closed on Sunday, with new listings for a whale capable of the world’s deepest ocean dives, and 21 shark, ray and sawfish. A proposal to list the African lion, however, was rejected due to a lack of data.

The Norwegian proposal to protect the estimated 20,000-25,000 remaining polar bears, which are threatened by melting ice, Arctic oil exploration and hunting, saw the species gain an Appendix II listing. That means countries must work together to put in place conservation plans, as opposed to the stronger Appendix I listing which requires strict protections such as bans on killing an animal.

Dr Masha Vorontsova, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare Russia, said: “We are pleased to see the polar bear joining a growing list of threatened migratory species protected under CMS. Appendix II does not mean that sufficient conservation action will be taken to protect the well-being of polar bears.

“What gives us hope is that this listing means that 120 countries are now recognising the threats that polar bears face from the shrinking of their ice habitat to pollution and hunting. This is an important first step, but it must not be the last if we wish to save the polar bear.”

The top level of protection, Appendix I, was issued for the rarely-seen Cuvier’s beaked-whale (Ziphius cavirostris), which scientists have recorded as diving as deep as 3km below the water’s surface.

The meeting in Quito also agreed that the 120 parties to the convention should pass laws to ban the capture of live whales and dolphins for use in travelling shows and entertainment.

Cathy Williamson of Whale and Dolphin Conservation said: “This very positive development from CMS sends a clear message of international concern about the impact of live captures for the aquarium industry on wild whale and dolphin populations.”

Campaigners praised the new protections for rays and sharks, with countries agreeing to take steps to stop the practice of finning, where sharks are caught and their fins cut off for use as soup at Chinese banquets.

Humane Society International’s Alexia Wellbelove said: “Today’s commitment at CMS by countries to provide greater protection for shark and ray species is an unprecedented step forwards in the conservation of sharks and rays worldwide.”

Governments agreed that the use of lead shot should be cut down to stop the poisoning of migrating birds, despite the UK initially opposing the move. The resolution also called for the phasing out of the veterinary drug diclofenac, and rodenticides, insecticides and poison baits.

Martin Harper, RSPB director of conservation, said: “I would like to congratulate the UK government for its role in helping to find a way forward. The UK showed leadership on the issue of poisoning by providing financial support to set up the CMS Preventing Poisoning Working Group, which produced the guidelines that have been ratified.”

Guidelines were also settled for the first time on how best to protect birds and bats from wind turbines and other forms of renewable energy.

Bradnee Chambers, the convention’s executive secretary, said: “Like never before in the 35-year history of CMS, migratory animals have become the global flagships for many of the pressing issues of our time. From plastic pollution in our oceans, to the effects of climate change, to poaching and overexploitation, the threats migratory animals face will eventually affect us all.”

POLAR BEARS HAD A BAD DECADE The polar bear population dropped 40% in the area north of Alaska and northern Canada. [HuffPost]

New Marine Protected Area in Bangladesh


This video from the USA about Mexico is called Marine Protected Areas: A Success Story – Perspectives on Ocean Science.

From Wildlife Extra:

First ever Marine Protected Area for Bangladesh

Bangladesh has created its first marine protected area that will now safeguard whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and other oceanic species.

Bordering the territorial waters of India, the Swatch of No Ground Marine Protected Area (SoNG MPA) spans some 672 square miles (1,738 square kilometres and is more than 900 meters deep.

The waters are home to large numbers of Irrawaddy Dolphins, Finless Porpoises, Pacific Humpback Dolphins, Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins, Pantropical Spotted Dolphins, Spinner Dolphins, and what may be a resident population of Bryde’s Whales.

“The SoNG MPA supports an astonishing diversity of dolphins, porpoises and whales including species in need of immediate protection,” said Rubaiyat Mansur of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project.

“Declaration of Bangladesh’s first Marine Protected Area shows our country’s commitment to saving its natural resources and wonders.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project has worked along with the Government of Bangladesh since 2004 to ensure the long-term protection of the cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) in waters of Bangladesh through collaborative efforts with local communities.

“Marine protected areas that conserve cetaceans and other marine life are extremely important steps in saving vital marine ecosystems that support hundreds of thousands of people,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Ocean Giants Program. “Safeguarding these species and natural resources will become even more important in the years to come, particularly due to the challenges of climate change.”

New whale species discovery off Florida?


This video is called Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera brydei).

From Wildlife Extra:

Possible new whale species could be the world’s most endangered

A new species of whale may have been discovered off the coast of Florida. Scientists previously thought that the group of around 50 whales living in DeSoto Canyon in the Gulf of Mexico were a [sub]species of Bryde’s Whale (pronounced ‘brooda’).

However, new genetic testing indicates that they might in fact be different species, and if so that would make them the most endangered whale on Earth.

The new testing has identified that the whales could be a distinct subspecies of Bryde’s Whale, or they could potentially be a new species altogether.

The DNA sampled in the tests also suggests that there were previously many more of the whales. “It’s unclear based on the genetics exactly when [the decline] occurred,” says Michael Jasny, Director of the Marine Mammal Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), as reported on Mother Nature Network.

“It’s possible humans were involved in the decline, through whaling or industrial activities. There’s a suggestion in the published paper that oil and gas activity might have led to contraction of the range.”

DeSoto Canyon, where the whales live year-round, is adjacent to Mississippi Canyon, where the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred in 2010.

Testing carried out on whales in the area after the spill showed high levels of toxic metals, and it is suspected that the new whale species in the Gulf would also have been affected by the incident.

Jasny, who recently petitioned the US government to list the whales as an endangered species, believes that the whale needs protection from local environmental stressors, including shipping noises and the widespread use of seismic ‘airgun’ surveys for oil and gas exploration. The airguns have been banned in the canyon, but continue in nearby areas.

“Sound travels much farther in seawater than it does in air,” Jasny explains. “We know noise from seismic surveys travels particularly far and can have a large environmental footprint. Great whales are especially vulnerable.

“We know that airguns can destroy the ability of whales to communicate, hundreds of miles or in some cases even thousands of miles from a single airgun array. We know it causes great whales to cease vocalizing, and that it can compromise their ability to feed.

“It’s hard to imagine how this population — or possibly this species — would survive without protection.”

Along with other conservationists, Jasny hopes that the species will be listed as endangered, as this will afford it further protection. However the US Fish and Wildlife Service have a backlog of endangered species, which will mean a long waiting period for adding the whale to the list.

Should it be decided that the whale will be added to the list, it will then go to the US Endangered Species Act, which could take two years to process.

Bahrain’s marine life threatened?


This video from California in the USa is called “Teething” Baby Whale Uses Humans As Pacifiers, Whale Watching.

From the Daily Tribune in Bahrain:

Environment: Bahrain’s marine life threatened?

Oct 8 2014

If the sight of dumped oil bottles and other waste like plastic bags, fishing lines and diapers at local beaches wasn’t horrifying enough, a recent washed up carcass of a baby whale, at one of the Kingdom’s beaches, is truly a cause of concern for all.

While marine debris has been affecting the beautiful coastlines of the Kingdom for a long time now, it seems human wastage and carelessness are endangering the marine habitat too.

Bahrain Beachcombers (a volunteer group committed towards cleaning the shorelines of the island), Founder, Darren Schneider discovered the remains of the small mammal while going for a swim at the Nurana Island.

The species from which it belonged to, was not determined as it was already in a bloated state. Darren and his girlfriend dragged the carcass of baby whale back into the water so it could float away.

Shocked, he felt that the death of the animal could be related to marine pollution caused by the dumping of waste materials in the sea, which are not biodegradable.

Speaking to DT News, Mr. Schneider said, “As part of our cleaning initiatives, our group managed to collect more than hundreds of oil bottles from the shoreline that were not properly discarded. Some of them even have oil left in them and this can be an alarming health hazard for the marine life, in terms of oil spills and plastic dumped in the sea.”