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.”

California blue whales, have they recovered?


This video from California in the USA is called Drones Over Blue Whales, Gray Whales in Surf, Megapod of Dolphins off Dana Point Whale Watching.

From Wildlife Extra:

Has the California blue whale population made a complete recovery?

Analysis of numbers of California blue whale suggest that the population has achieved a complete rebound, with as many of the whales living off the Californian coast as there were before they were hunted to near extinction 110 years go.

In the 1930s, when whaling was at its peak, the population of blue whale dropped to between 500 to 1,000 individuals, according to researchers. After whaling became illegal in the 1970s, the population had a chance to recover and by the 1990s had grown to around 2,200 individuals. However, this figure levelled out, and remains the same today.

In order to assess whether this number represented a complete comeback for the whales, the research analysed published data looking at today’s number of California blue whales, the number that were killed by whalers during the 20th century, and the number killed each year by ship strikes. Using this data, scientists concluded that California blue whale numbers are currently 97 per cent as large as they were prior to 1905.

That the number is almost the same could explain why the population stopped growing in the 1990s. Cole Monnahan, a doctoral student in ecology and resource management at the University of Washginton, explains: “Before this study some people thought that number should be going up, but if there were about 2,200 whales to begin with, then that is what the environment can support.”

However, the findings were greeted with a certain amount of cynicism by some. Jay Barlow, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration research scientists, says, “It all depends on whether you believe the whaling statistics or not, and my guess is there are more underestimates of whales killed, rather than overestimates.”

If the number of whale deaths during the 20th century were underestimated, it could suggest that California blue whale numbers are not in fact fully recovered. But if the data is indeed correct, it would make them the only species of blue whale to have made a full recovery.

Dutch harbour porpoises counted


This video is called Harbour Porpoise Species Identification.

Translated from the Dutch cetacean researchers of Stichting Rugvin:

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

On Sunday, September 28, 2014, volunteers of Stichting Rugvin counted 34 harbour porpoises in the National Park Oosterschelde.

Around half past ten in the morning thirty volunteers departed aboard eight ships in line to the eastern part of the Oosterschelde. Nowhere else in the world the number of porpoises is counted in this way. During the scan, there was not much wind, so the animals were easy to find. A total of 34 porpoises were observed, including at least three mother and calf pairs.

Harbour porpoises in Belgium: here.

Whale exhibition in Denver, USA


This video from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City says about itself:

11 February 2013

Whales: Giants of the Deep” brings visitors closer than ever to some of the mightiest, most massive, and mysterious mammals on Earth. Featuring life-size models, interactive exhibits, and films—as well as more than 20 stunning whale skulls and skeletons—the family-friendly exhibition also reveals the history of the close relationship between humans and whales, from the traditions of Maori whale riders to the whaling industry and later rise of laws protecting whales from commercial hunters.

Originally developed at Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand, the exhibition will also feature rarely viewed specimens from the Museum’s own world-class collections.

From CBS in the USA:

Whales: Giants Of The Deep Opens At DMNS In October

September 26, 2014 8:28 PM

DENVER (CBS4) – The skeleton of a 58-foot sperm whale is one of 20 whale specimens that will be shown as part of a new exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science that opens next month.

The exhibit, called Whales: Giants of the Deep, is on tour from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which boasts one of the largest collections of marine mammals in the world.

The exhibit will also feature life-sized models, digital interactives and rare artifacts. DMNS said visitors can crawl through a life-sized replica of a blue whale’s heart, touch whale teeth and hear the sounds whales use to navigate, communicate and find food.

The exhibit opens Oct. 10 and is free with museum admission.

Humpback whales near Ireland


This video is called Humpback Whale Shows AMAZING Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets.

On 26 September 2014 at 9:00, there were at least five, maybe six, humpback whales near Clogher Head, Slea Head Peninsula, Kerry, Ireland.

Details are here.