Canadian government lets humpback whales down


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

From Wildlife Extra:

Canada’s downgrading of humpback whales puts them at risk

Increasing numbers of humpback whales (North Pacific population) has led the Canadian Government to change their conservation status from endangered to species of special concern it was announced in the Canadian Gazette.

This move follows the 2011 conclusion by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) that there had been no evidence of a population decline of humpbacks since the 1960s, which is around the time that commercial whaling ended. They also found that the population has been increasing at about four per cent per year since the early 1990s (when records began), and that they have increased by more than 50 per cent over the last three generations.

But this is a controversial move as environmentalists are concerned that the downgrading could damage the humpback whale’s future, because there would be no longer the requirement for critical habitat to be designated and protected. They are particularly worried as the decision potentially removes one of the hurdles in the way of approval for the Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

The decision, “has absolutely no basis in science and is simply a political move to clear the way to approve the [Enbridge] pipeline,”said Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, to CBC News. She said that this area is where the humpback whales feed and rear their young in the spring and summer. If the pipeline goes ahead, those areas are expected to be a major corridor for oil tanker traffic.

“Ships were one of the specific things that were mentioned by scientists as being a very high hazard to the whales for their recovery. The danger is of course that the ships will strike them physically and kill them. Without the habitat, they can’t be expected to thrive,” she said.

“Their [humpback whales] recovery isn’t complete and we still need to be working to protect them the best way we can,” said Linda Nowlan, regional director, B.C. and Pacific, for the World Wildlife Fund Canada to Reuters News Agency. “It’s kind of ironic that the best form of protection is being removed at a time when the threats are increasing.”

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Mysterious Antarctic sound turns out to be whales


This video is called Close Encounter with Minke Whale in Antarctica.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Scientists solve mystery of Southern Ocean ‘quacking’ sound

Noise heard in the Southern Ocean has been attributed to the underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale

Taku Dzimwasha

Wednesday 23 April 2014 15.05 BST

The mystery source of a strange quacking sound coming from the ocean has been discovered.

The so-called “bio-duck” noise, which occurs in the winter and spring in the Southern Ocean, had confused researchers for over 50 years.

Scientists have now attributed the sound to underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale.

Submarine crews first heard the quacking sound – a series of repetitive, low-pitched pulsing sounds – in the 1960s.

Lead researcher Denise Risch, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration north-east fisheries science centre in Massachusetts, told the BBC: “Over the years there have been several suggestions, but no one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.”

The research team attached suction-cup sensor tags equipped with underwater microphones to a pair of minke whales off the western Antarctic peninsula in February last year, with the aim of monitoring their feeding behaviour and movements.

These were the first acoustic tags deployed on Antarctic minke whales, and the team compared their recordings with years worth of collected audio recordings to match the sounds. Researchers were able to identify the quacking noise, as well as downward-sweeping sounds previously linked to minke whales.

The sounds “can now be attributed unequivocally to the Antarctic minke whale,” Risch and her team wrote in a study published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Researchers are hoping to retrospectively analyse previous recordings to investigate “seasonal occurrence and migration patterns” of the whales.

Scientists remain puzzled as to why the whales produce the sound, but it is thought that the animals make the noise close to the surface before they make a deep dives to feed.

Risch added: “Identifying their sounds will allow us to use passive acoustic monitoring to study this species. That can give us the timing of their migration – the exact timing of when the animals appear in Antarctic waters and when they leave again – so we can learn about migratory patterns, about their relative abundance in different areas and their movement patterns between the areas.”

Giant Waves Breaking Up Antarctica’s Sea Ice: here.

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Good whale news from Japan


This video is called Humpback Whales – BBC documentary excerpt.

After bad news from Japan about taxpayer-funded killing of whales … and good news about Japanese demonstrating against whaling … now some more good news.

From Wildlife Extra:

Japan saves humpback breeding grounds

March 2014: It’s good news for humpbacks as Japan has designated the Kerama Islands and surrounding waters in Okinawa Prefecture as the country’s 31st national park and the first in three decades. These waters are also famed as a breeding ground for whales, including humpbacks who migrate to the tropical waters for mating between December and April every year.

The designated area includes 30 islets and reefs, and covers 3,520 hectares of dry land and 94,750 hectares of ocean. It lies 35 kilometres west of Okinawa Main Island and is famous for its rich aquatic environment. It is home to 248 species of coral.

A report in the Japan Times says that the ministry will also designate surrounding waters shallower than 30 metres as a marine park and will strictly restrict development within them, such as the extraction of sand. It also plans to build coral restoration facilities to counter the damage done in the past.

Blue whales and many other marine animals will receive important new safeguards by Chile’s declaration of two new marine protected areas (MPAs) along its southern coast: here.

March 2014: The future of Japan’s whaling activities in the Antarctic could be reviewed as the International Court of Justice in The Hague has announced that it will deliver its preliminary judgment in the case between Australia and Japan at the end of the month: here.

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Good whale news from Chile


This video is called BBC Planet Earth (Blue whale).

Not only news about extinct whale species from Chile, also about living species …

From Wildlife Extra:

Blue whales get a boost in Chile

February 2014: Blue whale and dolphin conservation gets a boost with the decision by Chile Government to make Tic Toc, situated on Chile’s southern coast, the largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) in continental Chile. With an area of around 90,000 ha (equal to the urban area of Chile’s capital), Tic-Toc is one of the most biodiverse areas of Chilean coast.

“This marine park is a gift and a great inheritance for our children,” said Dr Francisco Viddi, Marine Conservation Program coordinator at WWF Chile. “Tic-Toc will finally be protected; its rich waters, innumerable species and fragile ecosystem will be conserved and the blue whales will continue to have a home here every summer.”

The new MPA is an important feeding and nursing ground for the blue whale, the world’s largest mammal. The area is also home to unique species of dolphins such as the Chilean dolphin and Peale’s dolphin, as well as two endangered species of otter.

“This is the beginning of a path to achieve conservation of at least 10 per cent of Chilean seascapes,” said Dr Viddi. “Still there is much left to do, but we are convinced that the declaration of these new protected areas will be a significant contribution and will be managed seriously and efficiently.”

Along with Tic-Toc, the government also approved the designation of a Marine Coastal Protected Area further south in Aysén. Both efforts will help to consolidate an important pole of conservation in the area.

“Chile urgently needs a network of marine protected areas along the coast and the Tic-Toc Marine Park and the Aysén protected area opens the door,” said Carlos Cuevas, Founder and Director of the Melimoyu Foundation. “We hope that they serve as a model to be replicated in the rest of the country.”

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Did Chilean prehistoric whales die from algae?


This video says about itself:

Smithsonian 3D Digi Landscape – Chilean Fossil Whales – Time Lapse

26 November 2011

9 exposure HDR time lapse shot overnight. Newly discovered fossil whales in foreground with the Pan-american Highway leading towards the port of Caldera, Chile.

From Wildlife Extra:

Ancient marine graveyard mystery solved

February 2014: The 40 marine mammals that washed up on the Chilean coast millions of years ago died at sea probably from being poisoned by toxic algal blooms say scientists.

The marine graveyard was discovered in 2011 when builders working to extend the Pan-American Highway discovered a 250 metre wide quarry site filled with the skeletons of more than 40 marine mammals including 31 large baleen whales, seals, a walrus-like toothed whale, an aquatic sloth and an extinct species of sperm whale, suggesting that they died from the same cause.

The wide array of animals buried at the site over four levels indicated that the cause of death didn’t differentiate between the young and old or between species, and occurred repeatedly over thousands of years. This suggests that harmful algae blooms, which cause organ failure, could be the most common cause of mass strandings.

Other causes, like tsunamis, were ruled out by the team of Chilean and Smithsonian paleontologists because they would have produced a range of skeletons including much smaller species, rather than the primarily large mammals found at Cerro Ballena. A mass stranding while alive was ruled out as a cause of death due to the way all the marine mammals were were found at right angles to the direction that the current would have flowed.

Humans have been using echolocation in the form of sonar since the early part of the 20th century, but whales have made use of the ability to use sound to pinpoint locations for tens of millions of years. As evidenced in the fossils – which belong to a new species of ancient whale named Cotylocara macei – cetaceans have been using echolocation for at least 30 million years: here.

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Endangered right whale saving attempt by biologists


This video says about itself:

Watch: Endangered Right Whale Trapped In Fishing Line:Rescue by Wildlife biologists

20 February 2014

The fate of the whale hangs in the balance with at least 20ft of fishing rope still tangled in its mouth despite a rescue attempt. An endangered whale has become entangled in heavy fishing rope off the US coast of Georgia.

Wildlife biologists had to cut away more than 280ft of the commercial fishing line which was being dragged by the whale.

It is now swimming easier than it was, but they had to leave the whale with at least 20ft of the thick rope still tangled in its mouth.

Clay George, a marine mammal biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said this would give it “a fighting chance” to free itself.

He said the whale had suffered injuries to its head and tail.

“Disentanglement can’t save every whale. The focus must be on prevention.”

By Philip Ross:

Endangered Whale Gets ‘Fighting Chance’ After Biologists Cut 280 Feet Of Fishing Line From Whale’s Mouth [VIDEO]

A 4-year-old endangered right whale that became entangled in nearly 300 feet of fishing line was partially freed Monday after biologists pursued it and removed some of the heavy rope from its mouth.

The 30-foot whale was spotted in the waters near Jacksonville, Fla., during Navy aerial surveys. Biologists from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were alerted to the distressed whale’s predicament, and quickly sprang into action to free the giant.

According to Associated Press, the rescue crew was able to remove about 280 feet of the heavy commercial fishing rope, but had to leave some of it inside the whale’s mouth.

“We feel like what we did gives the whale a fighting chance to shed the remainder of the rope on its own,” Clay Georgia, a marine mammal biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told AP. “The real take-home message here is, we can’t just go out and save and fix every whale that shows up entangled. In some cases it’s just completely impossible to disentangle that whale.”

Experts say that encounters with commercial fishing gear and accidents with ships off the East Coast are the biggest threats right whales face in the wild.

Right whales, which can reach 50 feet in length and are identified by their enormous heads, are the rarest of all large whales. According to National Geographic, right whales were hunted nearly to extinction by 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century whalers. The whales were especially valuable for their abundant oil and baleen, the row of keratin bristles used to filter krill through their mouths. Baleen was used to make corsets, buggy whips and other popular items.

Northern right whales, which are found in the Atlantic along the eastern coast of Canada and the U.S., are the most endangered of all the right-whale species. There are only about 450 northern right whales left in the wild. Each winter, the whales migrate to warmer waters off the coasts of Georgia and Florida to give birth to their calves.

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Sperm whales stranded in Denmark


This video from Denmark says about itself:

17 Feb 2014

Two sperm whales have stranded in West Jutland this weekend. One was already dead, the other one is still alive, but will be impossible to save. It is still unclear why the whales stranded – but the theory is that they have been ill – or that they have not navigated properly. The two whales are about 14 meters long and are quite an attraction to the locals.

Meanwhile, the second whale has died as well. They were both young males.

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