Saving sixty pilot whales in New Zealand


Volunteers care for stranded whales on Farewell Spit earlier this year. Photo: DOC

From Radio New Zealand:

Sixty beached whales refloated

Updated at 7:41 pm on 14 February 2015

The 60 remaining whales that beached at Golden Bay are being refloated, some on pontoons.

Department of Conservation staff and volunteers rushed to the Farewell Spit area to try to rescue 198 long finned pilot whales yesterday, but this morning the whales stranded again.

At high tide at 6pm tonight, up to 200 rescuers led the whales into the ocean.

DoC spokesperson Andrew Lamason said everything was so far going to plan.

“There’s a lead group of about twenty and they’re swimming out into deeper water and the remaining whales are sort of straggling, but they appear to be generally following that lead group as well. At the moment it’s looking quite positive.”

Mr Lamason said he would not know until dawn if the whales have stranded again.

Related

See also here. And here.

Hundreds of pilot whales beached in New Zealand


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

Whale Rescue Farewell Spit

24 January 2012

Volunteers work to free a pod of stranded pilot whales on Farewell Spit, New Zealand; an area notorious for whale strandings. Project Jonah CEO, Kimberly Muncaster, talks about the rescue. 24 January 2012.

This video says about itself:

13 February 2015

Almost 200 pilot whales stranded themselves Friday on a New Zealand beach renowned as a deathtrap for the marine mammals, conservation officials said.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Mass whale stranding in New Zealand kills 24 with more fatalities expected

Almost 200 pilot whales became stuck on Farewell Spit in Golden Bay, prompting nearly 100 volunteers to help refloat them

Australian Associated Press

Friday 13 February 2015 06.59 GMT

A mass whale stranding on Farewell Spit in New Zealand’s Golden Bay has left 24 of the animals dead and local authorities expect the toll will continue to rise.

Close to 100 volunteers worked on Friday to help refloat almost 200 pilot whales which became stranded on the stretch of beach.

Most of the whales that survived were refloated in the high tide, but were “swimming in a confused fashion”, said Andrew Lamason from the Department of Conservation (DOC).

“What the risk is, is you’ve got some of those whales in that pod which are determined to restrand and they’ll be dragging the ones that have been refloated back onto the beach,” he said.

But as for what caused the whales to strand in the first place, Lamason said it was part of nature.

“It’s sad but in a way it’s how nature works. You’ve gotta be pragmatic when you’re wearing my shoes,” he said.

The DOC and the volunteers called off help for the night but will be back at the beach on Saturday morning to keep the whales comfortable and healthy.

Farewell Spit is a narrow sand spit at the northern end of Golden Bay and there have been numerous previous whale strandings there.

Rare Pacific right whales are back near US coast


This video says about itself:

31 October 2011

National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry describes a magical but risky experience photographing an enormous [southern] right whale off the coast of New Zealand.

From the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California in San Diego, USA:

Research Highlight: The Sound of Hope

Rare whale species heard off continental U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years

Feb 09, 2015

Once upon a time in the ocean, North Pacific Right Whales thrived.

Their unique calls could be heard across the seas from Asia to North America. Intense whaling activities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries changed all that, decimating their population. Mid-twentieth century recovery efforts—backed by international whale-protection laws—were hampered by illegal Russian whaling in the 1960s and ’70s.

Today, only several hundred North Pacific Right Whales remain, divided into two groups: one in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia and a second in the eastern Bering Sea off Alaska. For years scientists have been seeking any sign of the Bering Sea group because it is considered one of the most critically endangered cetacean populations in the world with only about 30 animals remaining.

Now, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego researchers have reported some good news for the precarious population with a glimmer of hope that its numbers may be rebounding. A team led by Scripps researcher Ana Širović recorded the first evidence of these animals off the continental United States in decades.

Širović and her colleagues analyzed marine mammal sounds recorded in 2013 with four High-frequency Acoustic Recording Packages (HARPs), underwater microphones developed at Scripps that capture the calls and clicks emitted by various species. North Pacific Right Whales are known to produce distinctive low-frequency sounds—acoustically classified as up-calls, down-calls, gunshots, screams, and moans—that can travel across vast distances in the ocean.

To their surprise, the team discovered two Right Whale calls in HARP data recorded at Quinalt Canyon off Washington State, the first off the continental U.S. in more than 20 years, and separately at Quinn Seamount in the Gulf of Alaska.

“We had been looking for Right Whales for some time, knowing that the chances of hearing them were pretty small,” said Širović. “So it was very exciting and I was quite surprised when we heard their calls. It was a good day.”

“Our ability to detect rare species, such as the North Pacific Right Whale, has been dramatically improved by the development of new technology for listening underwater,” said Scripps Oceanography Professor John Hildebrand, a co-author of the study, published in Marine Mammal Science.

In 2013, two Right Whales were visually identified off British Columbia, Canada, marking the first such sightings that were made in the area in more than 60 years. Širović said there is no way of definitively knowing whether the animals seen were the same as the ones that were heard.

Nevertheless, the recent acoustic recordings and visual sightings may be good signs for the population of this rare animal and these instances “may offer a sliver of hope for its eventual recovery,” the researchers said in the report.

“Given the rarity of this species, and very few visual or acoustic sightings that have occurred outside the Bering Sea, our detections are an important indicator that this population is using a larger oceanic area of the North Pacific,” said Širović. “I think we are all doing this kind of work hoping to find good things to report. This was one of those good news moments. It was a happy finding.”

Kokako in New Zealand, video


This video from New Zealand says about itself:

13 December 2014

This kokako from Tiritiri Matangi was filmed feeding on juicy leaves.

From the Bird Ecology Study Group about this:

North Island Kokako feeding on leaves

03 Jan 2015

The North Island Kokako (Callaeas wilsoni) is of ancient lineage with very few surviving close relatives. Its closest cousin is the saddleback (Philesturnus spp.).

“The video clip below was taken on Tiritiri Matangi Island, New Zealand. The island has been kept free of pests like rats, stoats and possums so that endemic bird species, which are mostly poor flyers, have a chance to re-establish their numbers.

“The tagged bird was seen on a branch at almost eye level, next to a path we took while returning to our waiting ferry.

“The bird can be seen holding down the leaf with one leg while tearing off bite-sized pieces to savour. After devouring the whole leaf, it hopped off to harvest another delectable juicy leaf.

“Its blue wattles and black mask gives away its identity.”

Teo Lee Wei & K

14th December 2014

New Zealand pigeon video


This video says about itself:

New Zealand woodpigeon feeding on yellow blossoms

13 December 2014

This pigeon was filmed at Zeelandia, Wellington. The commentaries in the video was made by our very knowledgeable volunteer guide at the sanctuary.

From the Bird Ecology Study Group:

New Zealand Pigeon (kereru)

24 Dec 2014

The New Zealand Pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae) is a rather large bird, ~ 50 cm long, often sighted sitting quietly on tree branches. Its distinctive white underparts enable the birdwatchers on the ground to spot it easily.

Baptist preacher prays for suicide of gay Christian author


This 2008 video from the USA is called Michael Moore vs Westboro Baptist Church.

From Christian Today:

New Zealand pastor prayed for suicide of gay Christian author

Published 08 December 2014

Carey Lodge

A Baptist pastor says he stands by his email to a gay Christian author who he referred to as a “filthy child molesting fag”.

“I pray that you will commit suicide,” Pastor Logan Robertson of the Westcity Bible Baptist Church wrote in a response to an email from Jim Marjoram, who was promoting his book detailing his struggles as a gay Christian.

“We’re not interested in your filthy lifestyle or book.” Robertson said in an email now posted online.

“Romans 1 clearly says God has rejected homos and they are worthy of death. You cannot be saved…The bible says you are vile, strange (queer), reprobate, filth, sodmote [sic], natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed (2 Peter 2:12).”

Robertson then refused to speak to ONE news reporter, Matt McClean, who is gay, about the incident.

He allegedly told McClean that he would not give an interview to a “filthy faggot”.

In a separate interview, however, he stood by his earlier claims. “I think every single one of them [gay people] should be put to death,” Robertson said.

“Christians shouldn’t be doing it. I’m not going to do it, it’s the Government’s job to be doing it.”

His words have been condemned by the National Leader of Baptist Churches of New Zealand, Rev Craig Vernall.

Vernall confirmed that Westcity Bible Baptist Church is not a member of the union, and said he was “appalled” by Robertson’s comments.

“It’s unfathomable to be that any Christian would pray for someone to commit suicide,” Vernall told GayNZ.com.

“We cannot and never would endorse his comments.”

Robertson is described as having a “love for the lost” on his church’s website, but Marjoram has said: “what you’re preaching isn’t love”.

“And if you call yourself a Christian…Jesus wouldn’t go anywhere near that,” he added.

It seems that Westcity Bible Baptist Church in New Zealand is rather like Westboro Baptist Church in the USA.

New Zealand Seabird of the Year vote


This video says about itself:

Seabird Diversity in the Southern Ocean

The New Zealand archipelago, particularly its subantarctic islands, is a global seabird hotspot. It’s home to 25 per cent of the world’s breeding seabird populations and a very diverse array of penguin, albatross, petrel and shearwater species.

NIWA seabird ecologist Paul Sagar outlines the major threats to seabirds on land and at sea. He explains how modern tracking technology is being used to study interactions between foraging seabirds and fishing vessels during the breeding season, and to track their enormous migrations between breeding seasons. These well-travelled seabirds serve as indicators of what’s happening in ocean ecosystems across the world.

From the New Zealand 2014 Seabird of the Year site:

Here’s where you can vote for your favourite seabird, and if you like, make a contribution to Forest & Bird’s work to protect New Zealand’s seabirds. Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s leading independent conservation organisation. To see what we are doing for seabirds click here.

New Zealand is a seabird superpower. More than a third of the world’s seabird species spend at least part of their lives here. Thirty-six of those only breed here. The Seabird of the Year poll is supported by Heritage Expeditions. Voting closes at midday on Monday the 24th of November.

Kiribati seabirds: here.