Humpback whale disentangled off Massachusetts, USA


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

From the Center for Coastal Studies in the USA, 4 August 2015:

COASTAL STUDIES TEAM FREES ENTANGLED HUMPBACK WHALE IN 11 HOUR OPERATION

On Sunday, August 2 the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team (MAER) at the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) disentangled a young humpback whale yesterday in Cape Cod Bay.

The whale had fishing gear trapped in its mouth and was in very poor condition when discovered early in the morning on Sunday by the CCS Humpback Whale Studies Program. The MAER team freed the animal after an eleven hour operation and was helped by entanglement responders from the West Coast of Mexico.

The whale was spotted by the humpback researchers just off Wood End Light in Provincetown at 5:30 am on Sunday morning.

“The whale had a large amount of gear in its mouth and likely had been entangled for weeks” said Scott Landry, director of MAER. “The whale was very small, around 30 feet, and not very easy to see when it was discovered by the humpback team. Had they not found it the whale its prognosis would have been very poor”.

The team used grappling hooks to attach working ropes to the entanglement on the whale. Buoys were added to the working ropes to slow the whale and keep it at the surface.

After a thorough assessment the team found that the whale had rope and netting through its mouth that was dragging deep into the water. Using knives at the end of long poles the team selectively cut away the entanglement over a period of several hours.

“The whale was in a much better position by the time we ended the operation late in the afternoon off Plymouth. That being said, the whale was not in great condition from its entanglement and has a lot of work to do in healing” said Landry.

The team was joined by Karel Beets and Ricky Rebolledo of the Red de Asistencia a Ballenas Enmalladas (RABEN), the whale disentanglement network of Mexico. They have joined the CCS MAER team for three weeks as part of a fellowship program supported by several NGO’s and coordinated by the Global Whale Entanglement Response Network, a conservation and welfare initiative of the International Whaling Commission, in partnership with CCS.

CCS is deeply invested in making the response to entangled whales as safe for humans and whales as possible, hosting groups from many nations as part of that effort. “Yesterday was a great experience” said Beets, “It reinforced the need for all responders to be methodical in how they deal with entangled whales, taking each step slowly and as a team”.

Boaters in the NE are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles and other marine animals to the Marine Animal Entanglement Response Hotline (1-800-900-3622) or the US Coast Guard, and to stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.

CCS disentanglement work is supported by a grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF), and the Massachusette Environmental Trust.

The fellowship program is supported by World Animal Protection and the DJ & T Foundation

The CCS MAER program also receives support from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Support is also provided by the Pegasus Foundation, the Hermann Foundation, the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation, and contributions from CCS members. The fellowship program is supported by the DJ & T Foundation.

All disentanglement activities are conducted under a federal permit authorized by NOAA.

Mysterious whale beached in Massachusetts, USA


This 26 July 2015 video is called Sowerby’s beaked whale: Reclusive deep-water whale washes up on US beach.

From CNN in the USA:

Beached beaked whale has marine biologists scratching their heads

By Lorenzo Ferrigno and Pilar Melendez, CNN

Updated 2154 GMT (0454 HKT) July 26, 2015

The carcass of a deep-sea beaked whale found washed up on a Plymouth, Massachusetts, beach is so rare that it has marine experts confounded: What is its exact species, and how did it get to shore?

The 17-foot toothed female whale, which weighs nearly 1 ton and has dark purplish skin with a long slender snout, was found washed up on a stone jetty.

It is believed to be a Sowerby’s beaked whale, but its type is so rarely seen that New England Aquarium biologists “have been conferring to determine the exact species,” aquarium officials said in a statement released Saturday.

“The beaked whale carcass is fairly fresh and in good condition,” the statement said. “At first inspection, the long, streamlined whale did not have any obvious entanglement gear or scars or obvious trauma from a vessel strike.”

The deep diving Sowerby’s whales are usually found on the continental shelf, hundreds of miles out to sea, the statement said.

Marine biologists with the New England Aquarium performed an animal autopsy Saturday at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and are investigating what caused the whale to wash ashore, according to the statement.

An employee with Plymouth Marine and Environmental Affairs staff called in the whale at 10 a.m. Friday, Plymouth harbormaster Chad Hunter told CNN.

“The best way to describe it, it looked like a dolphin,” Hunter said. “But much bigger.”

Plymouth natural resource officers anchored it to avoid it washing out, he said. Because of the whale’s enormity, the staff had to wait until high tide, around 5 p.m. Friday evening, to remove the carcass from the rocks.

The whale was then towed it to the pier and lifted it by crane onto an aquarium trailer, Hunter said.

“Deep diving whales you generally don’t see near the coast, so it is very unique for it to wash up on the beach,” Hunter said. “We have had a number of whales and dolphins end up on shore over the years, but never this species to my knowledge.”

New England Aquarium staff last handled a beaked whale in 2006 in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution could not be reached for comment or necropsy results.

Ecosystems in Massachusetts, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Doing more with less: ecosystem services in Massachusetts

14 May 2015

Ecosystem services are the benefits that we receive from nature every day, both tangible, such as clean drinking water and recreational opportunities and some less visible, such as climactic regulation through the uptake of carbon by plants. These benefits are provided to people at both local to global scales. However, not all ecosystems are created equal in regard to their value to humans. Some ecosystems provide many more services to populations than others. Ecologists and conservation groups often single out these hardest working ecosystems – called “hotspots” – for their exceptional conservation value.

Our recent study in the state of Massachusetts in the United States sought to measure the provisioning of ecosystem services and quantify how hotspots have changed over the past 10 years. We used a series of models and spatial databases to quantify changes to eight different benefits that nature provide to the residents of Massachusetts and assigned any areas of the state that provided 5 or more high-value services, or 5 or more services that are producing in the top 20th percentile, as hotspots. We found that over the past decade, hotspots have increased in Massachusetts, particularly in urbanizing areas such as those surrounding Boston.

However, more hotspots may not be a good thing.

Over the past ten years in Massachusetts, urban development has increased by more than six percent, at the expense of forests, grasslands, and agricultural lands. When we lose intact forests, we lose stable flows of clean water, climate regulation, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat, just to name a few, leaving the remaining forest to pick up the slack. The increasing number of hotspots reflects an ongoing division of the natural landscape into smaller units, which must still produce high amounts of services to meet demand, but now with less.

The scale at which these hotspots are defined, both in terms of the provisioning and delivery of services, is also important. For example, conserved lands in cities provide many local services to large amounts of people such as water filtration, recreational opportunities and a reduction of the urban “heat island” effect. However, large, intact forests in unpopulated areas offer resources to a broader regional to global community, such as climate regulation through the uptake of carbon, timber harvest for wood products, and high-quality habitat for many species.

Our study points to several important considerations for land managers and lawmakers when including ecosystem services and hotspots in their conservation plans. In order to meet the wide-array of goals that conservation plans often strive for, a cross-scale approach is required. Local entities must join forces with state to regional groups in order to define and implement conservation actions that benefit the greatest amount of people. Only then will we be able to maximize the diversity and magnitude of ecosystem services supported by the landscape.

See also here.

Piping plovers, new research


This video from the USA says about itself:

27 September 2011

Piping Plovers at Plymouth Beach, Plymouth, Massachusetts

From the Journal Star in the USA:

Color banding shows movement of piping plovers

January 25, 2015 9:15 am • By LAUREN R. DINAN / Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

It’s always around this time of year that I really start to miss summer. I miss those warm days, long walks, family picnics and looking for piping plovers. That might not be on everyone’s list of favorite summer activities, but it is the highlight of my summer.

Piping plovers (Charadrius melodus) are small, stocky, sand-colored shorebirds that spend the summer nesting here in Nebraska and the winter on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, southern Atlantic Coast and Caribbean. They nest on sandbars, reservoir shorelines and sandpit lakes along the Platte, Loup, Elkhorn, Niobrara and Missouri rivers in Nebraska.

The Nongame Bird Program at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been color banding adult piping plovers and their chicks along the lower Platte River system in eastern Nebraska since 2008. So far, 431 plovers have been banded, 114 adults and 317 chicks, which is quite a few for a threatened species.

Color banding allows us to identify individual birds so we can better understand how the species is doing: are numbers up or down, are they successfully reproducing, and are they surviving the winter? All important issues for a species currently listed as threatened on the state and federal endangered species list.

Adult and chick survival varies from year to year and depends on a number of factors: weather conditions, the amount of available food and so on. Each summer, we construct individual encounter histories for all of the observed color-banded plovers, which allows us to estimate adult and chick survival.

Color banding also shows us how piping plovers move across the landscape. Plovers banded along the lower Platte system have been observed along the Missouri, Niobrara and the central Platte rivers. Plovers originally banded in these areas have also been found nesting along the lower Platte system. Adult plovers nesting along the lower Platte most often return to there the following year, but chicks hatched there are likely to nest elsewhere.

In 2014, three plovers originally banded along the lower Platte as adults and nine banded as chicks nested along the Missouri River in northeast Nebraska. Two plovers originally banded along the central Platte and nine originally banded along the Missouri nested along the lower Platte River system in 2014. The little guys do get around.

Color banding helps us understand where our plovers spend the winter. Our plovers spread out across their winter range from the southern tip of Texas to the Florida Keys and all the way up the Atlantic Coast to South Carolina. So far this fall and winter we have received reports of 23 lower Platte plovers along the Gulf Coast and two along the Atlantic Coast.

The plover pictured here, with its light blue flag and green-over-red, red-over-green bands, has been a fun bird to follow. This plover was color-banded as an adult in June 2014 at a sand and gravel mine in Saunders County. It hatched and raised four chicks and was last seen in Nebraska in late June. The next time the plover was seen, it was about 1,000 miles away enjoying the sun, sand and surf at Padre Island, Texas, in October 2014.

Which of our plovers will return to Nebraska to nest in the summer of 2015? We’ll find out soon, but gosh it’s hard to wait.

Chick mortality leads to male-biased sex ratios in endangered Great Lakes Piping Plovers: here.

Many beached sea turtles saved in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

1 July 2014

A sea turtle rescue center in North Carolina cares for and rehabilitates injured sea turtles, and returns them to the ocean amid cheering crowds. Sea turtles are resilient, but they are slow to recover. So the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center spends a lot of time and effort to help save loggerhead and other Atlantic Ocean turtles.

From Wildlife Extra:

More than 1,200 sea turtles washed up in New England

Over the past month a record number of sea turtles, most of which have been critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley Turtles, have been rescued from stranding on the beaches of Cape Cod in New England, reports the Massachusett Audobon Society.

Normally, around 90 sea turtles strand on the Cape on their migration from the beaches of Mexico to Cape Cod Bay.

Sea turtles spend the warmer months in Cape Cod waters, then swim south to Mexico for the winter each autumn beginning in November. But some turtles get “caught” by the hook of Cape Cod.

Sea turtles that take their body temperature from the environment around them and when the water temperature of the Bay gets down to 50 degrees F they become cold-stunned.

Their circulation and other bodily functions slow down, they become unable to swim and so are at the mercy of the wind and currents.

When the wind blows from the north or northwest they get washed ashore along Cape Cod Bay and if they are not found, they die from exposure.

Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary runs the largest annual cold-stunned sea turtle rescue programme. Since the sea turtle stranding season began in early November, Wellfleet Bay has rescued or recovered more than one thousand turtles.

This already exceeds the number processed in each of the last 15 years and no one really knows why.

On November 21 the Wellfleet sanctuary set a new record of 157 endangered sea turtles rescued in one day. This is the largest number that Wellfleet Bay has processed in a single day in its more than 30 years of rescuing sea turtles.

Connie Merigo leads a team at the New England Aquarium Hospital that has treated 700 turtles in around a month and a half. She said that almost all the turtles are malnourished and suffering from hypothermia.

However, officials have said that despite the trauma of rescuing the turtles, the number of strandings could be said to signal good news because it shows that conservation efforts are working.

“Two years ago, in 2012, this year class of turtles left the beach, and there was 600,000. That was the most baby Ridleys ever leaving the beach in Mexico,” Mass Audobon Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott says.

“The number of turtles we are seeing may well mean that conservation is working, and that there are more turtles in the Bay.

“Decades ago, sea turtles nearly went extinct. Protection of their nesting sites and species conservation appear to be paying off.

“It is also a sign of climate change. Water temperature in the northwest Atlantic Ocean is warmer. More sea turtles are coming further north.”

Hundreds of thousands of amphibians helped to cross


This video from Massachusetts in the USA says about itself:

Berkshire Amphibian Migration — via Berkshire Oudoors

14 March 2012

Video copyright: Berkshire Outdoors.

Join Rene Wendell, resident naturalist at The Trustees of ReservationsBartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield, MA, as he takes a group of volunteers into a misty March (2011) night to help migrating amphibians cross a busy road. We encounter: spotted salamanders, spring peepers, wood frogs, four toe salamanders, red backed salamanders, and an American toad.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON herpetologists:

The Netherlands helps over sixteen kilometers of amphibians to cross roads

Post published by RAVON Foundation on Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

A traffic jam from Almere to Amsterdam; so long would the procession of toads, frogs and salamanders be, if all animals helped by volunteers to cross roads in the spring of 2014 would be put behind one another. The toad working groups during the months of March and April are estimated to have helped a total of more than 230,000 amphibians across the roads. These are about 50,000 more than last year but still not as many as in the boom years 2008, 2010 and 2011, when more than 300,000 amphibians were transferred.

The complete spring 2014 report is here.

Piping plover conservation in Massachusetts, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

15 August 2014

The threatened piping plover has been the focus of intensive conservation in Massachusetts. Thanks to continuing efforts by the many partners of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and MassWildlife, the plover population here has come a long way since the shorebird was protected under the Endangered Species Act, from around 140 pairs when it was listed in 1986 to more than 650 pairs in 2013. Here are four examples of communities that are making a difference.

Plovers along the Atlantic Coast return to the Northeast in spring to breed and raise their young over the summer. If you’re visiting one of the region’s great beaches, look out for signage about this rare species. You can help us protect their nests and chicks:

-Respect all areas fenced or posted for protection of wildlife.
-Do not approach or linger near piping plovers or their nests.
-Please leave pets at home or on leash. Plovers perceive dogs as predators.
-Don’t leave or bury trash or food scraps on beaches. Garbage attracts predators that may prey upon piping plover eggs or chicks.
-Volunteer!