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.

Paddle-boarding between humpback whales in California


This video from the USA says about itself:

Ghost Tree Pebble Beach

Stand Up Paddling with [humpback] whales 9/17/2014 Monterey Bay California. Today is the closest I have ever been to whales in the Monterey Bay. All Video shot with GoPro Hero3+ and Original GoPro Camera. Having the mist from a whales spout come across the board was all time. This is NOT recommended for those unfamiliar with this area of Ocean. The majority of time I stood in the kelp beds and watched it unfold. Note: Always respect whales and other marine life. Keep Space.

See also here.

Whale news, good and bad


This video is about whales.

From Wildlife Extra:

Victory and defeat for whales at the 65th International Whaling Conference

Sperm whales were one of the whale species that Japan was previously able to kill on the grounds of scientific research in the Antarctic

The 65th International Whaling Conference meeting in Portoroz, Slovenia – which saw the attendance of more than 60 member countries – was something of an emotional roller-coaster for those involved, including the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), with victory and defeat on both sides of the table.

Pivotal milestones were achieved toward the conservation and preservation of whales, with a resolution being passed to provide increased protection and support to whales, and a further ruling that Japan’s ‘scientific whaling’ in Antarctica was illegal, with no further permits to be issued in the future.

The resolution by Monaco on Highly Migratory Species aims to provide greater global protection for whales, allowing international bodies such as the UN to become involved. This victory was made despite pro-whaling countries opposing it. Japan prevented the resolution being passed by consensus, forcing a vote to take place, which went through 37 to 15, with seven abstentions.

IFAW Whales Programme Director Patrick Ramage said: “We are delighted that this important conservation measure for whales has been passed, showing that small countries can make big waves for whales at the IWC. We were pleased to see the pro-conservation countries stand together to adopt a common position and give it safe passage. We were also relieved to see that the EU was able to get its act together and support it as a bloc.”

There was further victory for whales as Japan’s so-called scientific whaling in Antarctica was ruled illegal, with no further permits to be issued. This news was of course not welcomed by Japan, who recently sent an email out to scientists around the world asking for international help to review its plans for a new ‘scientific whaling’ programme.

Ramage commented on the result, saying: “We are delighted by this crucial victory for whales. After the recent historic World Court ruling it begged the question of whether the IWC would be up to the challenge of imposing court-ordered standards for scientific whaling or content to stand on the sidelines while Japan continued commercial whaling by another name.

“This measure goes a long way in securing the full promise of the ICJ judgment which gives whales in Antarctica protection against slaughter for the first time in more than a century. We now urge Japan to call a permanent end to its illegal whaling activities in the Southern Ocean.”

Although the two victories were greatly welcomed by IFAW and pro-conservationists, there was dismay as plans for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary failed due to opposition from pro-whaling nations.

The proposal – which was put forward by Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa, and new sponsor Gabon – aimed to provide a comprehensive approach to cetacean conservation, managing all threats to whales in the region.

After the resolution was pushed to vote by pro-whaling countries, it failed to achieve the three-quarters majority needed for adoption (40-18 against and two abstentions).

A proposal for this sanctuary has been tabled at nearly every IWC meeting since 1999, but has stalled every time. A small consolation is that this year was the closest that a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary had come to adoption, according to the Brazilian Commissioner.

“This valuable conservation proposal has sadly failed once again because of the influence of countries outside the relevant South Atlantic region,” said Ramage. “Non-lethal research on whales in this particular area, as elsewhere, has provided much more reliable and precise information than has ever been achieved by so-called ‘scientific whaling’ or other lethal methods.

“It is very disappointing that such a positive opportunity for whales has been harpooned again by Japan and her allies.”

To read the IFAW CEO Azzedine T Downes’ column on the whaling conference click here.

Leading ethical travel agent Responsibletravel.com have put together a guide to whale-friendly tourism, outlining the ways in which people can take responsible whale watching trips that will result in supporting and protecting vulnerable whale species: here.