Scientists Can Now Watch Whales Feed Underwater (Photo credit: Mike Baird)
NGOs, animal welfare charities and a host of other stakeholders have urged Mattilsynet, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, to reverse its approval of an experiment on captured minke whales that they claim amounts to nothing more than torture.
The experiment is designed to see how whales’ brains respond to ocean noise. During the experiment, juvenile migrating minke whales will be trapped using a net and herded into a small enclosure. Once inside, they will be subjected to a host of noises, from naval sonar to the sounds emanating from oil and gas exploration. The experiment will last for up to four days, and up to 12 whales will be subjected to this.
According to Dr. Siri Martinsen, a veterinarian with NOAH, Norway’s largest NGO for animals:
“This research project is alarming for several reasons. We are very concerned for the welfare of the involved whales, as these circumstances are very likely to cause them stress and may even impact their health. There is a significant risk that the whales will panic once they are trapped, causing them to thrash or flail about, which could lead to serious injuries as they attempt to flee.”
You can help the whales by contacting the Norwegian government with your objection here.
Sam Helmyhttps://www.deeperblue.comSam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life!
The Biden administration issued a final rule protecting 116,098 square nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean as critical habitat for three populations of endangered humpback whales. The new regulation aims to help protect migrating whales from ship strikes, entanglement in fishing gear, and oil spills.
“Pacific humpbacks finally got the habitat protections they’ve needed for so long. Now we need to better protect humpbacks from ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, their leading causes of death,” said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney with the Center, in a statement. “To recover West Coast populations of these playful, majestic whales, we need mandatory ship speed limits and conversion of California’s deadly trap fisheries to ropeless gear.”
The biggest threats in humpback habitat are ships and fishing gear. The Center sued the federal government in January for failing to protect endangered whales from speeding ships that are using California ports. The organization is also co-sponsoring the California Whale Entanglement Prevention Act, which would require the state’s commercial Dungeness crab and other trap fisheries to convert to ropeless gear, also known as “on-demand” or “pop-up buoy” gear, by the end of 2025.
One population of endangered humpback whales that feeds off California’s coast contains fewer than 800 individuals, leaving them vulnerable to threats from humans. The new rule designates a total of 224,030 square nautical miles for two endangered populations, including one that is threatened. Overlapping habitat means that 116,098 square nautical miles of ocean will be protected.
The rule designates 48,521 square nautical miles of critical habitat off the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington for the humpback population that winters in Central America. The population of humpbacks in Mexico received protection of 116,098 square nautical miles in the North Pacific Ocean, including the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska — regions that also made up the 59,411 square nautical miles listed for the Western North Pacific humpback population.
“Today is a good day for humpback whales and the ocean that all living things depend on,” said Todd Steiner, Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network. “Designating 116,000 square miles of critical habitat in the ocean is something to celebrate, but whales, turtles, and dolphins still need additional protection from industrial fishing and ship strikes to recover and thrive, so we won’t be resting on our laurels.”
Critical habitat protection will help safeguard ocean areas essential for migrating and feeding. The designation will ensure that federally permitted activities do not destroy or harm important whale habitat. Evidence shows that endangered or threatened species that have protected critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without it.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg
We have a lot in common with dolphins. We live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, utilize forms of communication, and have culture. Culture, as in behavior that is shared within a community through social learning, has been recognized in a number of whale and dolphin species.
One of the most well-known of these may be the complex and charismatic singing of male humpback whales. In certain populations, virtually all male humpback whales sing the same song. Every few years, males change up their songs with new patterns of squeaks and groans and then the new pattern gradually spreads as more males in the area learn it.
Wild dolphins swim by | Credit: Taryn Elliott/Pexels
In terms of dolphins, observations on how different dolphins behave in different parts of the world suggest a wide range of cultural behaviors. Bottlenose dolphins for example, are one species with a huge range; localized populations of bottlenose dolphins live in distinct parts of the world. Dolphins in a population in Florida utilize a complex cooperative hunting strategy known as mud-ring feeding, where muddy water is kicked up in a circle to trap a school of fish.
In Laguna, Brazil, human fishermen and local bottlenose dolphins work together to catch fish. Both parties seem to have recognized that they target a specific type of fish and rather than compete they have learned to work together; when these local dolphins slap their heads or tails against the water, it acts as a cue for the Laguna fishermen standing on the nearby shore to cast their nets, which then breaks up the school of fish and makes it easier for dolphins to catch and feed on individual fish.
And in Shark Bay, Australia a number of unique hunting behaviors have been observed in the local population of bottlenose dolphins, including the use of sea sponges as a foraging tool.
Among orcas, the concept of culture is even more compound. There are at least 10 different known orca eco-types, each with their own range, diet, dialect and cultures. Within each of these ecotypes are localized populations.
CA163 “Liner” and pod mates from the population of transient (mammal-eating) ecotype off the coast of California | Photo by Tracie Sugo
Within the resident ecotype, there are southern resident orca and northern resident orca. Northern residents have a unique “massage” culture, in which they frequent specific beaches to rub their bodies along smooth pebbles in the shallows. Southern residents appear to have culture of being incredibly active and friendly; they have been observed having “greeting ceremonies” in which two groups of whales line up across from each other and then come together to engage in playful, physical contact (sadly such sightings have been sparse recently, as the Southern Residents face major threats to their primary food source, Chinook salmon).
Wild and free Risso’s dolphins off the coast of California | Credit: Tracie Sugo
In 2009, Risso’s dolphins were among a handful of studied cetacean species that were found to have spindle neurons, which are linked to processing emotions and social interactions (these specialized brain cells were previously though to be unique to humans, but have now been found in certain species of great apes, elephants and cetaceans). What types of culture might Risso’s dolphins have? And how many other cetacean populations have culture? There is much that is yet to be studied in other cetacean species. In addition to aspects of cetaceans like intelligence, self-awareness and roles in marine eco-systems, culture is another important consideration for advocating for their protection.
In areas like Taiji, Japan, where localized dolphin populations face tremendous pressure from human activity (direct hunts and captures, commercial fishing and prey competition, and noise pollution and other interference from nearby shipping lanes), there is serious concern for their well-being, their survival, and the risk of extinguishing their culture.
Striped dolphin entangled in the hunters’ net | Credit: DolphinProject.com
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” - Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard