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.

Whale in Buenos Aires, Argentina


This video says about itself:

Whale ‘moves in’ to luxury Buenos Aires dockside neighbourhood

3 August 2015

Residents of a luxury dockside neighbourhood in Buenos Aires have welcomed an unexpected new neighbour – a whale.

People from across the city have gathered at the Puerto Madero dockland in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the mammal, swimming between the moored boats.

This 3 August 2015 video is called Argentina: Hundreds gather to watch whale swim in Buenos Aires marina.

From the BBC:

Whale swims into Buenos Aires marina

4 August 2015

Residents of an upmarket neighbourhood in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires welcomed a surprise guest when a whale swam into a city marina.

The creature was seen surfacing amongst the luxury yachts in Puerto Madero, with hundreds lining up for a glimpse.

A local police boat later tried to lure the whale to the Rio de la Plata river, which connects with the Atlantic.

Experts have suggested the animal was most likely a cub separated from its herd.

“Unusual yes, I’ve never seen one in Puerto Madero,” said one resident.

“It’s really sad,” a local bank worker told the Associated Press. “This is not its natural habitat. The poor whale is clearly lost.”

A specialist looking at the numerous images on social media identified it as a minke whale, warning [in] La Nacion (in Spanish) freshwater would damage its health.

But Mariano Sironi, scientific director of the Whale Conservation Institute in Argentina, told AP he thought it was more likely to be a humpback whale.

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.

Pacific orca babies born


This video says about itself:

Orca Baby Boom Hits Pacific Northwest

2 April 2015

New optimism emerges for an endangered group of killer whales after the fourth orca baby this season is spotted off the coast of British Columbia.

From the Christian Science Monitor in the USA:

Orca baby boom: Enough to save the endangered whales?

Kelsey Warner

July 20, 2015

Orcas in the Pacific Northwest are experiencing a baby boom – and not a moment too soon, say experts.

The population off the coast of Washington and British Columbia hit a 40-year low in December, when a pregnant orca died in the Georgia Strait, near Vancouver. Area experts feared it was the beginning of the end for the killer whale population there, reported The Toronto Star.

“Not only did we not have the baby coming that we needed, but we also lost a breeding-age female,” said Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association. “We thought we were on an irreversible slide to extinction.”

In an area famous for its orca pods, the population had dropped from a high of 98 in the mid-90s to just 78 whales in the summer of 2014. The death of the pregnant whale dropped the population to a low of 77.

Following the death of the orca mother in December, local experts believe the pod delivered the next baby together, to ensure its successful arrival. Ken Balcomb of the Center for Whale Research and his colleagues noted bite marks on the newborn’s fin, indicating other whales may have served as midwives, pulling the baby from the womb. The researchers then observed the calf in the care of its grandmother for the first few days, while its mother recovered.

“They made very sure that the birth was going to go well this time,” said Mr. Harris. “Literally the baby was just pulled out by other members of the pod.”

He added, “That started the baby boom.”

By the end of the spring, four calves had been born, bringing the total population total to 81. About 35 to 45 percent of newborn orcas don’t make it past their first year, according to NOAA. If these babies survive, they will be the first successful newborns in the Puget Sound population in about two and a half years.

Eric Ward, who tracks the whale population for NOAA Fisheries, told the Star that the pods are still a long way from the 120 whales necessary to remove them from the endangered list.

“There’s reasons to be optimistic for this population, and there’s reasons to be concerned,” said Dr. Ward.

He attributes their initial decline in part to depleted populations of prey, including the pods’ favored Chinook salmon. He also says contaminants from fish that spawn near urban areas may have been a factor.

In 2014, the Chinook salmon population spiked, and that may have turned things around, combined with a demographic shift with more orca females of reproductive age.

This baby boom “will continue as long as there’s available prey,” said Ward.

Still uncertain is the effect of warmer ocean temperatures on the Pacific fish stock, who generally prefer colder waters. This past winter, tides shifted and warmer sea temps were recorded.

“We don’t know the implications this giant blob of warm water will have on marine life and the killer whales,” Ward said.

Pilot and killer whale songs


Killer whale

November 2011: Scientists enlist the public’s help in identifying pilot and killer whale songs: here. See their site here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Off the coast of Stellendam [a Dutch lifeboat] has succeeded in pushing a stranded sperm whale back into the sea. The animal of more than 12 meters long was swimming towards the shore this morning, and had beached on a sandbank.

See also here.