North Atlantic right whales may face extinction after no new births recorded | Environment

The dwindling North Atlantic right whale population is on track to finish its breeding season without any new births, prompting experts to warn again that without human intervention, the species will face extinction.

Scientists observing the whale community off the US east coast have not recorded a single mother-calf pair this winter. Last year saw a record number of deaths in the population. Threats to the whales include entanglement in lobster fishing ropes and an increasing struggle to find food in abnormally warm waters.

The combination of rising mortality and declining fertility is now seen as potentially catastrophic. There are estimated to be as few as 430 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, including just 100 potential mothers.

“At the rate we are killing them off, this 100 females will be gone in 20 years,” said Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. Without action, he warned, North Atlantic right whales will be functionally extinct by 2040.

A 10-year-old female was found dead off the Virginia coast in January, entangled in fishing gear, in the first recorded death of 2018. That followed a record 18 premature deaths in 2017, Baumgartner said.

Woods Hole and other groups, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been tracing right whale numbers in earnest since the mid-1980s.

Federal research suggests 82% of premature deaths are caused by entanglement in fishing line. The prime culprit is the New England lobster industry. Crab fishing in Canadian waters is another cause of such deaths.

Baumgartner said that until about seven years ago, the population of North Atlantic right whales was healthy. But then lobster fishermen began greatly increasing the strength of ropes used to attach lobster pots to marker buoys.

Whales becoming entangled are now far less able to break free, Baumgartner said. Some are killed outright, others cannot swim properly, causing them to starve or to lose so much blubber that females become infertile.

“Lobster and crab fishing and whales are able to comfortably co-exist,” Baumgartner said. “We are trying to propose solutions, it’s urgent.”

Baumgartner said the US government should intervene to regulate fishing gear. He also said the industry should explore technology enabling fishermen to track and gather lobster pots without using roped buoys.

The whales migrate seasonally between New England and Florida, calving off Florida and Georgia from November to February. They primarily feed on phytoplankton. Scientists believe rapid warming of the Gulf of Maine, linked to climate change, is drastically depleting that food source.

Past measures to prevent ship collisions and to safeguard feeding areas have helped. Several environmental groups have sued the federal government, demanding greater protection for right whales.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/26/north-atlantic-right-whale-extinction-no-births-fishing

Advertisements

Mission to untangle female right whale highlights species’ precarious plight | Environment

A mission to disentangle a particularly important North Atlantic right whale from a thick rope wrapped around its jaw has proved a partial success, amid growing fears that the endangered species is approaching a terminal decline.

The individual female whale, known as Kleenex, is considered one of the most productive North Atlantic right whales left in existence, having given birth to eight calves. Its condition has deteriorated, however, since it was spotted off the coast of Delaware in 2014 with a thick fishing rope wrapped around its head and upper jaw.

Conservationists, aware that the right whale population has dropped alarmingly due to a spike in deaths and a birth drought, attempted to remove the rope last week, after Kleenex was seen near the Massachusetts coast. A pursuing team used a crossbow to fire a bolt with razor blades attached at the rope, but did not successfully sever it.

“The line was damaged and then the whale became more evasive and the weather got worse, so that was our best go at it,” said Bob Lynch, of conservation group Center for Coastal Studies, who was part of the rescue team.

“Ideally you’d get them on a table for a surgery but you can’t really do that with a whale. We deteriorated the quality of the line so hopefully it will help it break up over time. Whether that will be enough for this individual is hard to say, though.”

Kleenex is still able to feed but has lost weight, limiting her ability to have another calf. No new right whales were born off the south-east US coast over the winter calving season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed, meaning that the fate of even a single prodigious reproducer like Kleenex, thought to be aged around 50, could be crucial to the fate of the species.

“She is a rockstar of reproductive females and the species cannot afford to lose her,” said Heather Pettis, a scientist at the New England Aquarium.

“If the current rate of mortality continues, we will lose all reproductive females within the next 23 years, at which point the species is functionally extinct. If the line breaks up and she is free, she will be able to build up fat reserves and produce more calves in the future.”

The confirmation that no known calves were born over the winter is a blow to a species that is now thought to have a population of fewer than 450. “It’s the worst scenario we could’ve pictured, given it’s on the heels of a devastating series of mortalities,” Pettis said.

Scientists suspect that females are unable to put on enough weight to become pregnant, causing the birth rate to plummet. The feeding problems could, in part, be due to an increase in entanglements with more durable types of rope than those the whales were previously able to break.

The whales are also altering their range, most likely because their plankton food base is shifting. This has brought the species into areas dotted with fishing boats and other shipping off the north-eastern US and Canada, leading to entanglements and ship strikes. Last year, the Canadian government introduced stricter speed limits in the Gulf of St Lawrence for vessels measuring more than 20m, to prevent more whale deaths.

North Atlantic right whales have gone through years of lean birth rates before, such as in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and managed to bounce back. The species was nearly hunted to extinction before conservation efforts helped reverse its fortunes.

However, scientists warn that the current low birthrate is a major concern given that it is combined with an increase in mortalities, a situation that presents a significant risk to the species.

“I’m very concerned, the species isn’t in a good place at the moment,” said Mark Baumgartner, a marine ecologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

“But we have it in our power the change our activities so right whales can thrive in our oceans. We can have profitable shipping and fishing industries and still have right whales.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/22/female-right-whale-entangled-endangered-species?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=272313&subid=18006728&CMP=GT_US_collection

Massive Oil Spill In Borneo, Indonesia, Claims The Lives Of 5 People & An Endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin – World Animal News

BREAKING NEWS
By Lauren Lewis –
April 4, 2018

A dead Irrawaddy dolphin was found washed up on the shore near the oil spill. Photo courtesy of the Rare Aquatic Species Indonesia (RASI).
The Indonesian government issued a state of emergency yesterday following a major oil spill that occurred over the weekend in Borneo, Indonesia.
Tragically, five fishermen and one endangered dolphin have been confirmed dead so far as a result of the spill that occurred on Saturday morning in the Balikpapan Bay, in East Kalimantan province.
This morning, as per an AFP report on Yahoo7, Indonesia’s national oil company Pertamina, which originally denied responsibility, declared that the spill was, in fact, caused by a ruptured pipe that was used for transporting crude oil approximately 25 meters below the sea surface.
The Irrawaddy dolphin, which is listed as endangered on the ICUN Red List, was discovered on the shore near the spill on Sunday evening.
Distributed across the coastal Indian Ocean from India to Indonesia, the Irrawaddy dolphin’s relatively small size, mobile ‘expressive’ head, and ability to spit water when instructed have contributed to the recent rise in their captivity.

u.s.whales.org, Dipani Sutaria
While the toxic spill is believed to be the cause of the dolphin’s death, according to Mongabay, Danielle Kreb, a marine biologist with the non-profit organization Rare Aquatic Species Indonesia (RASI) explained that it would take up to a week before they receive the results of the samples they took from the animal.
A protected species under Indonesian law, killing an Irrawaddy dolphin carries fines and a possible jail sentence.
WAN prays there are no more deaths of people or animals affected by this tragic oil spill.

Help us continue to bring you the latest breaking animal news from around the world and consider making a Donation Here! http://www.peace4animals.net/donate

Please Go Plant-Based!

“One Person CAN Make A Difference”

TAGS:Animal News,Animal Protection,Animal Welfare,animal welfare organizations,
Dolphin,Endangered Species,Indonesia

http://worldanimalnews.com/massive-oil-spill-in-borneo-indonesia-claims-the-lives-of-5-people-an-endangered-irrawaddy-dolphin/

© Copyright 2016 – WorldAnimalNews.com

Why Do Whales Get So Big? Science May Have an Answer.

 

 

Picture of a diver has a close encounter with a southern right whale

A southern right whale approaches a diver off New Zealand’s Auckland Islands.

Photograph by Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic Creative

Land mammals can get plenty big, but to find the planet’s true giants, you’ll have to take to the seas.

In a new study, scientists show why that is. Marine mammals “have to find a happy medium between getting enough food and producing enough body heat,” says study leader William Gearty, an ecologist at Stanford University. (Read about a bus-size whale that’s still a mystery to scientists.)

Previously, researchers believed that marine mammals could be so large because the buoyancy of water frees them from the constraints of gravity. Although this freedom may still be a factor, Gearty says that his results show that marine mammals need their heft to keep themselves warm in the often chilly oceans.

“These animals are big for very specific reasons. It’s not that they could be big, it’s that they must be big,” he says.

Bigger is Better?

When Gearty and colleagues created a series of computer models analyzing factors that influence size, they found two that converged to determine body size in aquatic mammals.

The first is that these mammals need to be large to trap enough body heat. Larger mammals also lose less of this heat to the surrounding water, which gives them a major advantage over their smaller counterparts, according to the models, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But larger animals need more food to support their bulk, which created the second factor in Gearty’s model. Big mammals may trap heat better, but if they can’t get enough food to fuel their metabolism, then it doesn’t matter. (See National Geographic’s amazing whale pictures.)

Body size is one of the most important traits to study in animals, according to Chris Venditti, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading in England who wasn’t involved in the new study.

Curious Baby Humpback Whale ‘Dances’ With Mom and Divers This humpback whale and its calf were found playing off the coast of Tonga.

“If you’re going to measure one thing in an animal, it should be body size because that one thing is related to so many others,” Venditti says. “If you know how big an animal is, you probably know something about how it moves and its metabolic rate.”

Testing Gravity

In the last five years, scientists have uncovered evidence showing that, over time, families of mammals have tended to evolve larger body sizes. Bulkier animals can better fight off rivals for mating, food, and other resources, as well as access a wider variety of foods.

Land mammals, however, are hemmed in by gravity: They need massive bones and blood vessels to support their bulk while maintaining mobility—no easy feat when you tip the scales at several tons, like an elephant. (Read how blue whales are mostly “left-handed.”)

Initially, when Gearty started studying the factors that affected body size in marine mammals, he thought that he would simply see the elimination of gravity as a constraint.

Instead, his data told him that the minimum size of aquatic mammals was a thousand times larger than the smallest terrestrial mammals. The maximum size, however, was only 25 times larger, which meant that something must be forcing marine mammals to get large.

Scientists still haven’t entirely cracked the mystery of what determines body size in animals, Venditti says, but that hasn’t stopped life from evolving an array of shapes and sizes to fill every niche.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/whales-size-animals-ocean-marine-mammals/

Carrie Arnold is a freelance science journalist and frequent contributor to National Geographic online.

Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society.
Copyright © 2015-2018 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

In a melting Antarctica, scientists get a glimpse into the life of a mysterious species

https://grist.org/science/a-mysterious-whale-species-swims-in-warming-waters/

A few miles off the coast of the rapidly warming Antarctic Peninsula, scientists are getting their first-ever detailed look at one of the most mysterious mammals on the planet, minke whales.

Smaller cousins of the mammoth blue whale, the elusive minkes have remained mostly out of reach in the deep fjords of the icy Antarctic. It wasn’t until earlier this month that a team of scientists using an array of drones, suction-cap tags, and whale-mounted video cameras uncovered some basic facts about the species, such as their average size and how they moved. They discovered that minkes, long thought to be loners, are outgoing and social. They found out that minkes had spots.

Jeremy Goldbogen, an ecologist from Stanford who helped develop a new type of video tag to study these whales, was surprised to find six minkes feeding together at the same time. “For some reason they’re synchronizing their foraging behavior,” he said. “We don’t know a lot about that.”

There are likely hundreds of thousands of minkes, making them one of the most plentiful whale species. But shrinking Antarctic sea ice is destroying their habitat.

David Johnston, a marine ecologist at Duke University, said the expedition is an “opportunity for science to understand how we’re affecting the planet over the long term.”

The research team shared some of their pictures and video exclusively with Grist. These images from a remote corner of the world offer a window into minkes’ little-known lives, and they also underscore a hidden aspect of human-made climate change: We barely understand what were losing.

The Antarctic Peninsula is warming at a rate four times that of the rest of the planet, leading to large losses of sea ice and a catastrophic collapse of huge ice shelves, prime habitat for ice-loving minkes. Last year, a trillion-ton iceberg — one of the largest ever recorded — broke away from the peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf. In the decades to come, the rate of ice melt will double, and more ice shelves could collapse later this century should the world continue to warm at its current rate.

The slow destruction of the whales’ habitat adds extra urgency to their mission. It’s a true “race against the clock,” said Ari Friedlaender, an ecologist at UC Santa Cruz. I spoke with Friedlaender earlier this month as he and his crew arrived back at Palmer Station — fresh off the icebreaker that served as their base of operations, the R/VLaurence M. Gould. Friedlaender was the first person to tag minke whales a couple of years ago, which helped him gather the support he needed from the National Science Foundation to mount this year’s expedition.

On a trip to Antarctic waters in 2014, Friedlaender’s team learned that minkes rely on intact sea ice for their meals. Using an earlier version of their whale tag, the team found that the whales skim the underside of the ice hunting for krill, the tiny crustaceans that make up the bulk of their diet. No other whale species exhibits this behavior.

“We know the changing ice conditions affect their main food source, krill,” says David Johnston, an ecologist from Duke University on the team and an expert in the use of drones for marine conservation. “And so as the peninsula warms, we’re trying to figure out exactly how the whales are going to respond.”

The research team’s efforts are the latest attempt to crack secrets buried in Earth’s oceans. Just a few years ago, another team of scientists realized that the bristlemouth, a finger-sized fish that occupies the middle-depths of the seas, was the most common vertebrate animal on Earth. Last year, an exploration just a few miles off the California coast discovered an entire ecosystem filled with corals, sponges, and echinoderms — smack in the middle of a zone with minimal oxygen. Meanwhile, there’s new evidence that humanity has has left its fingerprints on every corner of the planet, from putting microplastics in the Arctic to launching new efforts to mine the deep ocean. Entire ecosystems have disappeared before we even knew they existed. (h/t to the many folks in this Twitter thread for these examples)

All of this is a reminder of just how strange our current moment on Earth is. It’s taken a little more than 100 years for people to remake the surface of the planet, and now our atmosphere is changing at a pace beyond that of any point in known planetary history. Yet we’re still learning basic facts about the many creatures we share this world with.
Members of the research team looking for whales to tag. “You have to kind of fake yourself out for a moment and not think about where you are, what those animals are, and you just have this task to do to put a tag on an animal,” Friedlaender says. “Once it’s over you can look at it and think, ‘Oh my God, that’s a minke whale—we just put down three tags in five minutes, that’s unheard of.’”

Mary Lide Parker
Friedlaender prepares to tag a minke in Andvord Bay, Antarctica. “We could go for days and not see any minkes and then it could go from bust to boom and we’d be putting the tags on as quickly as possible,” says Jeremy Goldbogen, an ecologist from Stanford on the trip. “In five minutes, we tripled the amount of information in the world on one of the most difficult species to study.”

Mary Lide Parker

Two humpback whales swim in Ciera Cove with the team’s base of operations, the ASRV Gould, in the background. “We’re working in the Antarctic Peninsula area in these very long and deep fjords,” Johnston says. “Everywhere you look right now you see penguins and seals and whales. It’s hard not to look out across the water and see something alive and amazing.”

Mary Lide Parker
“They’re often very curious,” Johnston says, “so I suspect they are trying to understand what we are. We’re often riding around in zodiacs which might look a lot like whales to them from below. I wonder if they are just curious about what we would be doing, always being at the surface.” Friedlander aims his crossbow for a biopsy sample, while hanging over the zodiac’s side. Duke Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing Lab

10,000 Dolphins Are Being Secretly Killed In France Every Year

The Extinction Chronicles

https://www.thedodo.com/in-the-wild/dolphins-caught-fishing-nets-france

Fishermen pulling in trawling net from ocean
Net being pulled onto boat

View original post 544 more words

Dolphin Project Confirms Taiji’s Dolphin Hunting Season Has Ended But Help Is Still Needed To End The Slaughter Permanently! – World Animal News

http://worldanimalnews.com/dolphin-project-confirms-taijis-dolphin-hunting-season-ended-help-still-needed-end-slaughter-permanently/

By Lauren Lewis –
March 3, 2018
Photos from Dolphin Project
Another horrific dolphin hunting season came to an end yesterday but sadly, plans are already underway for the 2018/19 season.
This season some progress has been made with 109 dolphins taken captive compared to the 235 dolphins that were captured during the 2016/17 season. That is still 109 dolphins too many!

According to documentation collected by Dolphin Project Cove Monitors, a total of 722 dolphins across seven species were taken captive and or slaughtered through the years. This figure does not include the untold numbers that die during the drives themselves. Often, the very sick, the young or injured are unable to keep up as the pod is being brutalized, thus, their numbers are never recorded.

“Tarps and their framework that dolphins are dragged under to be killed or taken captive have come down. At the butcher’s house, rolled up tarps have been stored. Banger poles used to “drive” the dolphins into the cove have been removed,” noted a statement yesterday by Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project. “For six months, dolphins were subjected to ongoing harassment and abuse; chased, injured, run-over, manhandled, dragged alive, taken captive and slaughtered. Entire pods of dolphins were decimated and age-old bonds of trust were irrevocably broken.”

For what?
Marine parks and aquariums were supplied with wild-caught dolphins and freshly-caught dolphin meat filled the cold sections of local grocery stores, despite the Japanese government’s acknowledged dangers of mercury contamination.

Just Tragic!
Every year from September 1st to March 1st, a notoriously cruel hunt of some of the most sentient and sensitive creatures on the planet takes place in Taiji, Japan, made famous by the 2009 Academy award-winning movie The Cove.

During this period, fisherman, or more appropriately, dolphin hunters, “drive” the mammals to their capture or deaths via means of physical violence and acoustic torture.

Dolphin Project is the only organization that has been on the ground consecutively since 2003, and the only one in Taiji during the entire 2017/18 hunting season.
The organization’s goal is to expose the atrocities committed against dolphins, utilizing live stream technology, photo and video documentation, blogging and the power of social media.
“Only with worldwide exposure will Taiji’s egregious practices end,” states the heralded non-profit. “And end they must.”

You can contribute to help Dolphin Project continue their important work of saving dolphins while also educating the public by donating HERE!

Help us continue to bring you the latest breaking animal news from around the world and consider making a Donation Here! http://www.peace4animals.net/donate

“One Person CAN Make A Difference”

TAGS:Animal News,Animal Protection,Animal Welfare,Animal Welfare Organizations,
Dolphin Slaughter,Dolphins Taiji

World Animal News brings you the latest breaking news in animal welfare from around the globe.
Contact us: contact@worldanimalnews.com
© Copyright 2016 – WorldAnimalNews.com

Drone captures humpback whales catching krill with bubbles (Antarctic)

The ocean update

Duke Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab (NOAA Permit 14809-03, ACA Permit 2017-034)

February 14th, 2018 (Julia Brown). A HUMPBACK whale surfaces, its mouth distended with krill and thousands of litres of water.

View original post 216 more words

DARPA launches programme to use marine life for detecting naval threats (USA)

The ocean update

The PAL programme aims to use the wide array of senses possessed by marine wildlife to detect naval activity. Credit : DARPA.

February 6th, 2018 (Robert Scammell). DARPA (Ed Sibylline : Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has launched a programme that aims to use the sensory capabilities of marine organisms to detect naval activity.

View original post 420 more words

Surprising Sea Turtle Facts

 “See ‘Underwater Snowstorm’ of Coral Reproducing”. National Geographic

130+ Seals found dead in Lake Baikal, supposedly from cardiac arrest or storm 

Whales, Sea Turtles Threatened by Trump Administration Proposal


https://www.ecowatch.com/west-coast-drift-gillnet-fishery-2504503658.html?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=56d843d0a0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-56d843d0a0-86074753

Right Whales on a Collision Course Toward Disaster – Defenders of Wildlife Blog

North Atlantic right whale entanglement, NOAA.
For the North Atlantic right whale, one of the most critically imperiled large whale species in the world, 2017 has been a terrible year – indeed, probably the worst year since commercial whaling was banned in 1937.

Beginning in April of this year, when a dead right whale was found stranded in Cape Cod Bay, the death toll has just kept rising. Two additional right whale deaths have been confirmed in the United States and an unprecedented twelve dead right whales have been confirmed in Canada. For a species with fewer than 500 individual surviving members, these mortality levels are absolutely devastating. Fifteen dead whales— three percent of their total population—is a catastrophic loss. Because not all right whale carcasses will be discovered, the true number of deaths is probably even higher.

To put this in perspective, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has previously found that the loss of even a single right whale may contribute to the extinction of the species. Even prior to this year’s horrifying spate of deaths, Defenders and its conservation allies had been extremely concerned about the lack of progress in right whale recovery. Despite decades of protection in the U.S. under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), leading right whale scientists recently concluded – with a 99.99 percent degree of certainty – that the species has been in decline since 2010.

The situation unfolding is so dire that, in response to this year’s unprecedented die-offs NMFS has declared the current phenomenon an unusual mortality event under the MMPA. This declaration puts much-needed pressure on government agencies by necessitating an immediate investigation into the causes of this significant die-off.
Dissecting These Die-Offs

We have known for a long time that entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes are the two largest causes of right whale mortality. Although the data and analysis are not yet complete for all the right whale carcasses recovered and necropsied, it appears as if these killers are likely responsible for this year’s overwhelming death toll. Preliminary evidence from both the U.S. and Canada shows that some of the dead right whales were hopelessly entangled in heavy fishing ropes while others showed blunt-force trauma marks consistent with being struck by a vessel.
Snared and Struck

Entanglements can drown right whales by keeping these air-breathing mammals from reaching the surface. They can also interfere with movement and feeding and create wounds when ropes cut into an entangled whale’s skin, leading to slow and painful deaths by starvation and infection. Alarmingly, new scientific studies show that fishing gear entanglements not only kill right whales outright, but also impose such an energetic cost on females, due to the burden of dragging entangled gear around, that they are bearing fewer calves. Indeed, 2017 is one of the worst years on record for baby right whales, with only five documented calves born. When you realize that some 85 percent of all known right whales have scars from entanglements in fishing gear, the tremendous risks that fisheries pose to the very survival of the right whale becomes clear.  

Blue whale in the shadow of a tanker ship. Photo by CINMS/NOAA

Ship strikes are also a life-threatening risk to right whales, which migrate up and down waters off the eastern coasts of Canada and the U.S. every year, through some of the busiest commercial shipping lanes in North America. Although we think of whales as the behemoths of the sea, they are dwarfed by huge container vessels, cruise ships, and other vessel traffic, and stand little chance of survival when one of these vessels runs them over at speed. For this reason, Defenders and its conservation allies worked hard for many years to get NMFS to implement speed limits for large vessels when whales’ seasonal migrations put them into the traffic danger zones. Yet the U.S. ship strike rule doesn’t go far enough, and Canada doesn’t have any permanent speed limit rules in place.
Working for Right Whales Right Now

Defenders and its conservation allies are taking action to protect the North Atlantic right whale from further unsustainable losses. We have just sent NMFS a 60-day notice of our intent to sue under the ESA and MMPA for its management of the American lobster fishery, which continues to seriously injure or kill right whales every year through entanglements in vertical lines.

We have also just sent a detailed letter to the Canadian government, urging it to step up to the plate and protect right whales from both entanglements and ship strikes in Canadian waters.

The situation is dire, but we will do everything in our power to halt and reverse the right whale’s slide toward extinction.
http://www.defendersblog.org/2017/10/right-whales-collision-course-toward-disaster/

Jane Davenport, Senior Staff Attorney
Jane’s work focuses on protecting marine species such as sharks, sea turtles, and marine mammals from direct and incidental take in fisheries; and on protecting freshwater aquatic species from habitat destruction and pollution from surface coal mining.
Categories: Marine Habitat, marine habitat, Marine Mammal Protection Act, North Atlantic right whale, Whales, Wildlife
1130 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20036

1-800-385-9712

©2017 Defenders of Wildlife

Endangered Orcas In The Pacific Northwest Just Suffered Another Heartbreaking Loss | Care2 Causes

By: Alicia Graef
September 29, 2017
Highly endangered orcas in the Pacific Northwest continue to face a host of threats to their survival, and now they’ve suffered another heartbreaking loss with the death of a young male.

These orcas, otherwise known as the southern resident killer whales (SRKW), live in three distinct pods (J,K and L), who travel through Puget Sound, the Straight of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the summer months before migrating to open ocean in the winter.

Tragically, even with live captures being banned, federal protection in the U.S. and Canada and millions spent on research and recovery efforts, they’ve yet to make a comeback.
Love This? Never Miss Another Story.

This week, the Center for Whale Research, which keeps an official census of these orcas, broke devastating news with an announcement that a two-year-old male, Sonic (J52), had passed away. He is believed to have died from malnutrition.

According to CWR, he was last seen on September 15, looking lethargic, while photos taken at the time showed severe “peanut-head” syndrome (when their head becomes concave around the blowhole), which is associated with impending death. He was with his mother and another adult male, who were tending to him miles away from the rest of the pod, and was believed to be “hours, if not minutes” away from death at the time. His mother and the male were spotted days later, but he was gone.

Sonic was part of the so-called baby boom for these orcas that began in 2014, but as CWR noted, with his passing three of the six whales born in the J pod during that boom have died, along with two mothers and a great-grandmother.  

Their population has dropped from 83 as of last year, to just 76 individuals today (not counting Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium), and time to save them is quickly running out.

While they continue to face a number of compounding threats ranging from boat traffic and noise to toxic pollutants, many believe the biggest problem now is a lack of food. Their main food source, Chinook salmon, is also endangered due to habitat loss, overfishing, and having their migration and spawning grounds blocked by hydroelectric dams.

“If something isn’t done to enhance SRKW prey availability almost immediately (it takes a few years for a Chinook salmon to mature and reproduce, and it takes about twelve years for a female SRKW to mature and reproduce), extinction of this charismatic resident population of killer whales is inevitable in the calculable future,” wrote Kenneth Balcolm, CWR’s founder.

Advocates for these orcas have pushed to expand critical habitat, with widespread public support, and are continuing to call for immediate action to help them survive, particularly calling for the removal of four lower Snake River dams in Washington and on the Klamath River in Oregon and Northern California, which is expected to have a huge impact on salmon recovery. Hopefully Sonic’s death will increase public pressure and help garner the political will to accomplish more protective measures.

For more on how to help, check out the Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative, Center for Whale Research, Orca Network and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.   
http://www.care2.com/causes/endangered-orcas-in-the-pacific-northwest-just-suffered-another-heartbreaking-loss.html

Photo credit: Thinkstock
Copyright © 2017 Care2.com, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved
Care2 Team Blog

#Taiji Tuesday – Short-Finned Pilot Whale

Short-Finned Pilot Whale: There are currently two recognized species of pilot whale, the short-finned and long-finned. In Japan, there are two morphologically and geographically distinct population…

Source: #Taiji Tuesday – Short-Finned Pilot Whale

After 20 Years in a South Korean Marine Park, 2 Dolphins are Going Back to the Wild! | One Green Planet

Michelle Neff

April 24, 2017

We have some very exciting news to share! After a staggering 20 years living at the Seoul Grand Park aquarium, Geumdeung, and Daepo, two bottlenose dolphins will be sent back to the oceans in July. The two dolphins were captured by a fishery net near Jeju Island in 1997 and 1998, respectively, with their names coming from the villages where they were first found. Geumdeung and Daepo were bounced between various dolphin performance theaters around Jeju Island until they were transported to Seoul Grand Park in 1999 and 2002. The pair have been there ever since.

According to the Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending marine animal captivity, the decision to move Geumdeung and Daepo came from Mayor Park Won-soon. The ground-breaking movie “The Cove” greatly influenced the mayor’s decision to rehabilitate and release the two dolphins, even going as far as to pay for the entire project.
After being taken from the wild and then forced to perform meaningless tricks for people, Geumdeung and Daepo are now finally going back home. Wonderful news!

The decision to move the dolphins back into their home is a solution to increase the wild dolphin population near the Jeju shores. Geumdeung and Daepo are around 23 to 26 years old and are still diagnosed as healthy enough to procreate, the average Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphin living up to 30-25 years old.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries plans to carry out training sessions for Geumdeung and Daepo so they will adapt back into the wild. Once they become used to their local surroundings and are able to catch prey, the two dolphins will be transported back to the Jeju island in May and then will return to the ocean around July. With dolphins having complex communication skills, advanced mental capacity, and genuine self-awareness, we are thrilled to learn that Geumdeung and Daepo will soon return to where they belong: the wild.

No animal should have to suffer for the sake of our entertainment. Please never visit or otherwise support a marine park like SeaWorld or Marineland. Instead, support organizations like Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project and Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians both of which are dedicated to stopping marine animal captivity. 🐬

Petition: Defend the Amazon Reef from Oil Drilling


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/644/723/057/defend-the-amazon-reef-from-oil-drilling/

URGENT Petition: Dolphins At Risk of Death in Drift Gillnets – The Animal Rescue Site


http://theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/ars/petition/Oceana-DolphinsAtRisk/?utm_source=ars-ta-animals&utm_medium=email&utm_term=03282017&utm_content=takeaction-f&utm_campaign=oceana-dolphinsatrisk&origin=ETA_032817_Ocean-DolphinsAtRisk_f&oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937

Petition Avaaz – Stop the world’s biggest whale slaughter


https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/norway_save_the_whales_loc/?aUxFefb

Drunk Frat Boys Used Beached Shark as Can Opener – Demand Arrests

 

Drunk spring breakers filmed themselves using a beached shark as a bottle opener, drinking beer off a star fish belly, and forcing a seagull back to their hotel room. Demand authorities find and prosecute these sick creeps.

Source: Drunk Frat Boys Used Beached Shark as Can Opener – Demand Arrests

Petition: SAY NO TO DOLPHINS AT THE KUWAIT SCIENTIFIC CENTER


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/611/239/530/say-no-to-dolphins-at-the-kuwait-scientific-center/

Petition-Save the Critically Endangered Maltese Skate – ForceChange


https://forcechange.com/196233/save-the-critically-endangered-maltese-skate/

Petition-Do Not Allow Accused Albatross Killer to Go Unpunished – ForceChange


https://forcechange.com/196497/do-not-allow-albatross-killer-to-go-unpunished/

Petition Emergency: Help Protect Manatees – The Animal Rescue Site


http://theanimalrescuesite.greatergood.com/clickToGive/ars/petition/DOW-HelpProtectManatees?utm_source=ars-ta-animals&utm_medium=email&utm_term=03152017&utm_content=takeaction-2&utm_campaign=dow-helpprotectmanatees&origin=ETA_031517_DOW-HelpProtectManatees_2&oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937

Petition: Stop dolphins, porpoises and whales dying in fishing gear in UK waters, United Kingdom


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/808/729/456/?src=WDCemail&campaign=bycatch

Stop Mutilating Pink Dolphins for Fish Bait

 

tmp_9534-pink-dolphin-by-rruiz3960-768x534-511596461

Pink dolphins are having their fins cut off by fishermen to use as bait, leading to painful, excruciating deaths. This inhumane practice cannot be allowed to continue. Help save these creatures from cruel deaths by mutilation.

Source: Stop Mutilating Pink Dolphins for Fish Bait

Urge Fairs to Cancel Cruel Shark Encounters!

tmp_29126-Nurse-Shark-2124327322

Sharks don’t belong in captivity. Please urge fairs to cancel these cruel events.

Source: Urge Fairs to Cancel Cruel Shark Encounters!

The Vancouver Aquarium Will Be Closing Its Beluga Exhibit | Care2 Causes


http://www.care2.com/causes/the-vancouver-aquarium-will-be-closing-its-beluga-exhibit.html

Denounce Surfer for Demanding Daily Culling of Sharks

A famous surfer has proposed on social media that France’s government should cull sharks daily to resolve the issue of an increase in shark attacks. Culling is cruel and ineffective and should not be promoted by an influential public figure. Tell this surfer that sharks belong in the ocean by signing this petition.

Source: Denounce Surfer for Demanding Daily Culling of Sharks