Horrific Video of a Pregnant Mother Whale Shark Caught in a Drag Net Shows the Impact of Our Reckless Fishing

onegreenplanet.org

By Estelle Rayburn 3-4 minutes

By dragging a net across the ocean floor, fishers can easily catch many fish at a time. However, this practice comes with a price — it often results in larger marine creatures being unintentionally picked up by the nets as well. This unfortunate situation happened recently off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea when a fishing boat accidentally caught a pregnant female whale shark in a drag net.

Upon getting news from divers on a diving boat that the animal had been scooped up by the net, the fishing boat’s captain reportedly said that they would release the whale shark. But instead of doing so promptly, the crew left the whale shark hanging on the side of the boat for upwards of two hours, leaving the poor creature unresponsive and with severely dry skin.

By the time the fishing boat crew finally cut the ropes that the whale shark was caught in and released her back into the ocean, it was already too late — she had spent too much time out of the water, and she had died. What’s worse, the diving crew reportedly spotted an unborn baby whale shark coming out of the mother and floating away into the sea. This drag net operation took the lives of not one but two innocent whale sharks.

When he heard about this tragic incident, Dr. Thon Thamrongnawasawata, a marine activist and an official counsellor for the Department of Marine and Coastal Resouces (DMCR), was understandably outraged. He reportedly posted on his personal Facebook page, “The whale shark is protected by the international Species Conservation Act. It is also classified as prohibited in the Fisheries Act. The female whale shark should not be caught or taken onto a fishing vessel. The sentence is a fine between 300,000 and 3 million baht.”

We certainly hope that the fishing crew receives a hefty fine for the murder of these two poor whale sharks.

To make sure justice is served for these whales and help more people learn about the harsh consequences of drag net fishing, a conservation group in Thailand called Go Eco Phuket is encouraging individuals to spread the word about this tragedy. Doing so is a great way to play your part in ending reckless fishing practices. Another easy thing you can do to help reduce the needless slaughter of marine life is decrease your seafood consumption. If we all work together, it’s very possible for us to enact change and preserve our planet’s precious marine animals!

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https://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/pregnant-mother-whale-shark-caught-drag-net/?fbclid=IwAR20YfGELlF_Es_uIEM_H7bpoS7yb4FukYqY_5OBlpx9tv-Mku9AT2BIqH8

Nap time💤💤💤

The Most Epic Whale Encounters

Protect Gulf Whales from Extinction

 

Fewer than 100 Gulf of Mexico Bryde’s whales remain in the wild. Without immediate protections, they will disappear from the face of the Earth. Sign this petition to protect these majestic mammals.

Source: Protect Gulf Whales from Extinction

Video: Amazing Footage Of Humpback Whales Utilizing Ingenuitive Way To Catch Fish – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com
by Alex Larson →

If you had to eat 5,500 pounds of food every day , you would need to find ingenuitive ways to get food and that is exactly what millions of years of evolution has done for the humpback whale.

New footage of humpback whales off the northeaster coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island have been captured on video showing how to get food to come to them instead of wasting energy to go after the fish. The method, called trap-feeding”, is when a humpback whale suspends itself on the surface or just below the surface and opens its mouth allowing for water to pour inside. While birds above the sea circle the fish trying to catch them from the air, the fish try to escape the birds and end up in the whales mouth.

As first reported in Marine Mammal Science, the researchers first noticed this way of feeding by two whales in 2011. Now the researchers have seen 16 whales use this technique, leading to the belief that the others whales have learned from observation.

The authors note that the ability of individual whales to learn can depend on physiology, as well as their ability to respond to their external environment, like changing numbers, availability, distribution, or behavior of prey.

http://seavoicenews.com/2018/11/29/video-amazing-footage-of-humpback-whales-utilizing-ingenuitive-way-to-catch-fish/

“Mother Humpback Stays by Calf While Rescuers Free it From Shark Net”

“Humpback Whale Shows AMAZING Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets”

 

Petition: Japan Is About to Start Slaughtering Even More Whales

by: Judy Molland
recipient: Japanese Government

39,173 SUPPORTERS – 40,000 GOAL

Japan announced December 26 that it was pulling out of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

“We have decided to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission in order to resume commercial whaling in July next year,” Japanese Cabinet Chief Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

Commercial whaling has been illegal since 1986, but Japan has flouted the ban several times. Now the country is declaring that it is leaving the IWC in order to pursue the slaughter of whales.

This is a barbaric and destructive practice. If you agree, please sign my petition urging Japan to return to the IWC and not resume whaling for profit.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/826/671/977/

 

Petition:Stop Japan’s Whale Slaughter

fe4e728b2427f87e302ce44dc7a7bfaec32c1e25-735x4001954676613.jpegJapan reportedly plans to resume cruel commercial whaling, putting millions of these vulnerable creatures at risk. Japan is responsible for a good portion of the near-genocide of whales, despite having been part of the IWC for over 60 years. Sign this petition to demand they remain in this organization, and stop their whaling for good.

Source: Stop Japan’s Whale Slaughter

Japan To Withdraw From International Whaling Commission And Continue Commercial Whaling – Sea Voice News

seavoicenews.com
by Alex Larson

In news that will greatly impact the fishing of the planets whales, Japan is set to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission and continue commercial whaling next year.

The decisions has caused a mixed reaction by different environmental groups across the world.

According to reports, Japan will inform the IWC of its decision to leave after the agency rejected their bid to resume commercial fishing just a few months ago.

Kyodo News is reporting that unnamed government officials are sourced as saying Japan will discontinue their expensive and contreversial practice of sailing to Antarctic waters and instead permit whaling fleets to operate in the countries coastal waters and exclusive economic zone.

According to The Guardian, a fisheries agency official denied the report to them stating, “Japan’s official position, that we want to resume commercial whaling as soon as possible, has not changed,” the official told the Guardian. “But reports that we will leave the IWC are incorrect.”

The IWC is responsible for setting catch limits for commercial whaling and in 1982, they decided that a commercial whaling moratorium will take place going forward due to whale populations worldwide.

Greenpeace Japan urged the Japanese government to reconsider the decision that the non-governmental organization called a “grave mistake.”

“This snub to multilateralism is unacceptable,” Sam Annesley, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, said. “We hope that Japan will reverse its decision and take its place beside the nations trying to undo the damage human activities have done to whale populations.”

But while some are arguing in against the withdrawal, Captain Paul Watson, whom is famous for leading Sea Shepherd on the front lines in fighting Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean has explained why this is actually a good move for whale conservation

In the statement on his Facebook, he writes:

“Why is this a positive Development.

  1. Because Japan has never stopped commercial whaling. They have ‘hidden’ it behind the excuse of so called ‘scientific whaling’ since 1987. They have continued commercial whaling despite the International Court of Justice ruling that there is no legal justification for their so-called ‘scientific whaling.’ Now there can be no façade, Japan has joined Norway and Iceland in their open defiance of international conservation law. All three nations are pirate whaling nations.
  2. With Japan out of the International Whaling Commission, the IWC can now pass the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. The IWC can now focus on conservation instead of whaling. Japan has been the single greatest detriment to the IWC during its entire history.
  3. The Japanese puppet nations will no longer be obligated to vote against conservation and without Japanese bribes, many will simply quit the IWC. Mongolia for example has absolutely no connection to whaling historically or practically.
  4. The IWC can now vote to condemn industrial commercial whaling.
  5. Japan will not be able to kill whales in the Southern Ocean. It is an internationally established whale sanctuary and the only reason Japan has been able to flaunt the law is by invoking the excuse of ‘scientific research whaling.” Overt commercial whaling is strictly prohibited in the Southern Ocean and Japan has indicated it will quit the Southern Ocean while expanding whaling in the North Pacific. This would mean that the current whaling season in Antarctic waters will be the last.
  6. Japan will be able to withdraw from the Southern Ocean without losing face.
  7. Opposition to illegal Japanese commercial whaling will be easier. Basically, we will be dealing with poachers. Japan will no longer be able to pretend that their commercial whaling is research whaling.
  8. Sea Shepherd’s objective to end whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary will have been met.

The last time Sea Shepherd engaged with the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean was for the 2016/2017 whaling season. We sent the Ocean Warrior and the Steve Irwin. Japan countered with multi-million dollar military grade surveillance making it impossible for Sea Shepherd to close in on their operations. Sea Shepherd has been unable to compete with such a massive security investment on the part of Japan. On the positive side, Japan has been forced to expend a great deal of money on security each year to maintain this edge.

Sea Shepherd’s relentless opposition to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean since 2002 has been a major factor in undermining Japanese whaling activities. It has cost the whalers and the Japanese government tens of millions of dollars and saved the lives of over 6,000 whales.

A whaling free Southern Ocean has been our objective for two decades and if Japan moves forward with their threat to withdraw from the IWC and to resume overt commercial whaling, this objective will be realized.”

Japan joined the IWC in 1951. The entity was established in 1948 under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling to conserve whales and realize the “orderly development of the whaling industry.”

http://seavoicenews.com/2018/12/21/japan-to-withdraw-from-international-whaling-commission-and-continue-commercial-whaling/

Heartbreaking News! 145 Pilot Whales & 4 Pygmy Killer Whales Died After Washing Ashore In New Zealand Over The Weekend – World Animal News

ByLauren Lewis –
November 26, 2018

More than 150 pilot whales were found either dead or dying in numerous separate incidents over the weekend in New Zealand.
A staggering 145 pilot whales from two pods were discovered stranded on a beach in Stewart Island late Saturday evening.
According to the Department of Conservation (DOC), half of the whales had already died by the time they were found, and the remaining ones tragically had to be euthanized.
“Sadly, the likelihood of being able to successfully re-float the remaining whales was extremely low. The remote location, lack of nearby personnel, and the whales’ deteriorating condition meant the most humane thing to do was to euthanize,” DOC Rakiura Operations Manager Ren Leppens said in a statement. “However, it’s always a heart-breaking decision to make.”
The DOC reportedly responds to an average of 85 marine mammal strandings per year, but they are mostly of single animals, not pods.
Exactly why whales and dolphins strand is not fully known, but factors can include: sickness, navigational error, geographical features, a rapidly falling tide, being chased by a predator, or extreme weather. More than one factor may contribute to a stranding.
A number of strandings occurred on New Zealand shores over the weekend, however these events are unlikely to be related.
“Of the 12 pygmy killer whales which stranded just over 24 hours ago, eight are alive and are being moved from Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast to Rarawa Beach on the east coast,” Project Jonah New Zealand shared on its Facebook page yesterday, explaining that there was a stream in which the whales could survive in overnight.
As per the nonprofit, medics have been mobilized and the re-floating phase of the rescue is scheduled to begin on Tuesday at 6:30am.
Members are needed to assist with this crucial phase of the rescue.
Volunteers should report to the Rarawa Campground upon arrival on Tuesday morning. Those with wetsuits will help with the release of the pygmy killer whales into the water. Volunteers without wetsuits can help care for whales on the beach before the re-float attempt takes place.
All volunteers should bring warm clothing, a sunhat and sunblock and plenty of food and water.
Tragically, the DOC also reported that a sperm whale also beached in Doubtful Bay on Karikari Peninsula in Northland. The male whale, which is thought to have beached around 3:00pm on Friday, sadly died overnight on Saturday. A dead female pygmy sperm whale also washed up at Ohiwa over the weekend.

https://worldanimalnews.com/heartbreaking-news-145-pilot-whales-4-pygmy-killer-whales-died-after-washing-ashore-in-new-zealand-over-the-weekend/

 

Contact us: contact@worldanimalnews.com

© Copyright 2018 – WorldAnimalNews.com

Hilarious Video Shows Woman Calling Cops On Whales

seavoicenews.com
By Alex Larson
2 minutes

While boating off Washington State’s Puget Sound, a families boat ride quickly turned to chaos when a couple of humpback whales appear along side the boat resulting in a woman calling 911. The video was originally posted to Facebook http://seavoicenews.com/2018/10/15/hilarious-video-shows-woman-calling-cops-on-whales/

by Darren Lucianna whom can be heard through the video trying to calm the others down and explain to them how rare of a sight this was.

Continuously through the video, panicked passengers beg for the engine to start on the boat to get away from the magnificent creatures while Mr. Lucianna is heard trying to calm down the passengers.

“Relax. He’s checking us out. They’re not going to hurt you, just relax,” he says, “They’re very intelligent… Look at this you guys, you’ll never see this again.”

Eventually, the other passengers reached the point where they believed 911 was their best option.

To the woman’s credit, she is heard telling the police the location of the boat due to her fear the whale may flip it. Whales are known to be extremely curious creatures who are highly intelligent so most likely, the pod just wanted a closer look at the humans and their noise pollution causing boat.

http://seavoicenews.com/2018/10/15/hilarious-video-shows-woman-calling-cops-on-whales/

Petition: Now Japan Wants to Legalize Commercial Whaling!

by: Care2 Team
recipient: International Whaling Commission

20,836 SUPPORTERS – 25,000 GOAL
“There couldn’t be a better opportunity” — that’s how one Japanese government official replied when asked about the prospects of legalizing and expanding whale hunting. The Japanese government hopes to weaken the current ban on commercial whaling as they chair this year’s International Whaling Commission (IWC) going on now until the September 14 in Florianopolis, Brazil.

But as you know, Japan doesn’t need to weaken the commercial whaling ban to hunt whales, because even though the ban has been in place since 1986, the country has continually ignored it. In fact, Japan has fictitiously given themselves the authority to grant their whalers “waivers” that have allowed them to continue slaughtering whales in the name of “science.”

Earlier this year, several news outlets revealed that Japan had killed more than 333 minke whales in the Southern Ocean already in 2018. 120 of them were pregnant females. If that wasn’t outrageous enough, new information from the World Wildlife Fund suggests that 50 of the whales murdered in the Antarctic were taken inside of a marine refuge established specifically to help marine wildlife like whales, seals and penguins thrive.

Now, Japan wants to be granted permission to kill more whales on an even wider scale. Further endangering these species and paying no price for flouting the law. Japan and other whaling countries like Norway and Iceland have together killed nearly 40,000 whales since 1986. If the IWC decides to grant them more leeway to hunt more whales imagine the damage they could do.

Stand up and tell the IWC that people from all around the world want them to continue to protect whales from commercial hunting. Sign the petition and demand that the IWC deny Japan’s request to expand whaling rights.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/599/249/939/

Photo credit : Christopher Michel

 

Iceland’s Minke Whales Just Got A Reprieve From Slaughter

Anti-whaling advocates are celebrating an early end to Iceland’s commercial hunt for minke whales for the year.

Despite an international moratorium on commercial whaling, Iceland, Norway and Japan have continued to senselessly slaughter

Out of this year’s self-imposed quota of 262 minke whales, only six were killed making it the lowest number to have lost their lives since the country resumed commercial whaling in 2003. It’s six too many, but the decline, along with the reasons the hunt ended early, are promising signs this industry is on its last legs.

Local media reports cited high costs, low profits and a declining interest in whale meat as reasons for such a poor hunting season. According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Gunnar Jonsson, spokesperson for IP Fisheries, Iceland’s main minke whaling company, also added the enlargement of a whale sanctuary in Faxafloi Bay near the capital of Reykjavik last year.

The area has historically been an ideal hunting ground, but the expansion of the sanctuary has added to difficulties by making whalers travel much further to hunt whales outside the area, which has already made it much less economically viable.

“This is very good news for minke whales and Iceland,” said Sigursteinn Masson, Iceland Representative for IFAW. “Ending minke whaling will have a very positive impact on the far more economically viable commercial whale watching industry.”

While minke whale meat is sold in Iceland, a poll commissioned by IFAW found that only one percent of Icelanders eat it regularly, while another 82 percent said they never eat it. Tourists, on the other hand, continue to be a driving force behind the demand but interest has also declined since IFAW launched its Meet Us Don’t Eat Us campaign in 2011 to help educate people about the industry. More restaurants have also committed to taking whale meat off of their menus.

Hopefully more awareness about the issue will help drive this industry into the past where it belongs, and whale watching will take its place as a far more lucrative and sustainable business.

“IFAW will continue to campaign against whaling which is cruel, wasteful and unnecessary. IFAW’s successful campaign against minke whaling in Iceland was done with understanding and respect for Iceland and its people, and in building alliances within the country that focus on what is best for Iceland and for whales,” added Masson.

Even that minke whales are safe for the year, endangered fin whales are still being targeted, and 57 of them have already been killed, including a rare blue/fin whale hybrid, which recently sparked outrage.

For more on how to help end whaling in Iceland, check out organizations including IFAW, Sea Shepherd and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

You can also help keep the pressure on right now by signing and sharing the petition New Petition: Icelandic Whalers Have Killed an Iconic and Endangered Blue Whale. Lets Keep Going Whaling Must End! urging Iceland’s Prime Minister to end whaling once and for all.

https://www.care2.com/causes/icelands-minke-whales-just-got-a-reprieve-from-slaughter.html

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Petition: Don’t Bring Back Commercial Whaling in Japan!

by: Care2 Team
target: Japanese Government

154,533 SUPPORTERS – 160,000 GOAL
Officials in Japan have just confirmed that they will be attempting to lift a ban on commercial whaling in order to begin killing whales again for profit. The official request will be made at an International Whaling Commission meeting in September.

Please sign this petition urging Japan officials to reverse course and leave the ban in place!

Japan hasn’t specified details of its proposal, including what species it hopes to target, but any efforts to bring back commercial whaling should be squashed now. It’s a brutal and bloody process that can lead to a slow and agonizing death for hunted whales. We must stand up for these gentle giants and fight any attempts to bring back the cruel and inhumane slaughter.

Sign now to join in demanding that Japan end any efforts to bring back commercial whaling now!

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/945/917/187/don%E2%80%99t-bring-back-commercial-whaling-in-japan/?TAP=1732

Copyright © 2018 Care2.com, inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved

Senator Markey Works with Massachusetts Fishermen, Lobstermen, and Environmental Community to Support Right Whale Legislation

markey.senate.gov
Monday, July 9, 2018

Senator Booker legislation would establish a new grant program to fund collaborative research to reduce the impacts of human activities on North Atlantic right whales

Washington (July 9, 2018) – With fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining, 17 confirmed deaths in 2017, and no observed calves this year, the species could become functionally extinct in twenty years if immediate action isn’t taken. In light of this crisis, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in co-sponsoring his Scientific Assistance for Very Endangered (SAVE) Right Whales Act (S. 3038) after gaining the support of fishermen, lobstermen, and environmentalists in New England. The SAVE Right Whales Act establishes a new grant program to fund collaborative projects among states, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on North Atlantic right whales. The bill would authorize $5 million in new funding annually from 2018-2028. In April, Senator Markey led 11 of his colleagues in requesting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conduct an urgent assessment of the impacts to the North Atlantic right whale from fisheries in Canada.

“The North Atlantic right whale is in crisis, and a unified effort along the entire extent of its range is needed to prevent the extinction of this treasured species,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Right whales are an iconic and integral part of our marine heritage in Massachusetts. We must vow not to repeat our history, when, generations ago, the right whale was hunted to near extinction. With the support of political leaders, fishermen, lobstermen, and the environmental and conservation communities, we can help the right whale recover and flourish again in our waters.”

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Other Senators co-sponsoring the legislation include Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

“The future of the right whale greatly depends on the collective efforts of scientists, researchers, managers and fishermen alike to work for the best possible result, while allowing fishermen to fish and whales to feed in the waters off of Massachusetts safely,” said Beth Casoni, Executive Director of Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “The establishment of this Act is imperative and the time is now, given the Unusual Morality Events of 2017. We greatly appreciate Senator Markey’s efforts to help the Massachusetts lobster industry in looking for a solution.”

“This proposed bill is a great start toward finding solutions that protect both whales and the fishing industry. It calls for science-led conservation efforts with all stakeholders working cooperatively,” said Scott Kraus, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Scientist of Marine Mammal Conservation at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. “Researchers, fishermen and government officials coming together is the only way that sustainable change will happen.”

“North Atlantic right whales are in dire need of our help,” said Dr. Priscilla Brooks, Vice President and Director of Ocean Conservation at Conservation Law Foundation. “This magnificent species is on the brink of extinction, with less than 450 whales remaining on the planet. We need to develop long-term solutions to protect right whales as soon as possible, and this bill is a meaningful step forward. We’re thankful for Senator Markey’s leadership on this critically important issue.”

“Our region’s lobstermen have bent over backwards to find ways to keep their lines from tangling up with whales,” said John Pappalardo, CEO of the Cape Cod Fishermen’s Alliance. “We are committed to a vital ocean as well as commercial fishing, and we’ll do everything we can to accomplish both goals. A bill like this, if passed, would help us get there.”

“The SAVE Right Whales Act is an enormous step forward and demonstrates the United State’ commitment to saving this critically endangered species. IFAW applauds Senator Markey’s decision to co-sponsor this bill, his steadfast leadership on this issue, and for creating the opportunity to further expand existing conservation efforts,” said Azzedine Downes, President & CEO of International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Organizations endorsing the legislation include the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Conservation Law Foundation, New England Aquarium, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Oceana.

https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senator-markey-works-with-massachusetts-fishermen-lobstermen-and-environmental-community-to-support-right-whale-legislation

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(ICELAND) Disgraceful & Barbaric: Icelandic whalers appear to have killed an endangered blue whale ‘ before chopping it up to be eaten as a delicacy in Japan: Photos of the massive mammal, which can grow to 3 3 metres long, were posted online by conservation groups claiming it was slain by Kristján Loftsson’s w haling company: The huge carcass was seen being hauled in to port by the Hvalur 8 ship while tied to the sid e of the vessel before being dragged on to the dock on Saturday evening #AceNewsDesk reports

Whales are starving – their stomachs full of our plastic waste | Philip Hoare | Opinion

theguardian.com
Whales are starving – their stomachs full of our plastic waste | Philip Hoare | Opinion
Philip Hoare

In January, 29,2016 sperm whales stranded on shores around the North Sea. The results of the necropsies (the animal equivalent of autopsies) of 13 of those whales, which beached in Germany, near the town of Tönning in Schleswig-Holstein, have just been released. The animals’ stomachs were filled with plastic debris. A 13-metre-long fishing net, a 70cm piece of plastic from a car and other pieces of plastic litter had been inadvertently ingested by the animals, who may have thought they were food, such as squid, their main diet, which they consume by sucking their prey into their mouths.

Robert Habeck, environment minister for the state of Schleswig-Holstein, said: “These findings show us the results of our plastic-oriented society. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste, which causes them to suffer, and at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs.” Nicola Hodgins, of Whale and Dolphin Conservation, added: “Although the large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, we shouldn’t dismiss the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all species of cetacean – not just those who suction feed.”

The notion of these vast, sentient and placid creatures being stuffed with our trash is emblematic enough of the unequal relationship between man and sperm whale. The fact that the latter possess the largest brains of any animal that has ever lived only underlies this disconnection.

Our use and abuse of animals seems in inverse proportion to the almost ritual reverence in which we purport to hold them

Sadly, to anyone who follows the ongoing story of our impact on cetaceans, the terrible predicament of German whales is not new – although the scale of last January’s strandings is. In 2011, a young sperm whale was found floating dead off the Greek island of Mykonos. Its stomach was so distended that scientists believed that the animal might have swallowed a giant squid. But when they dissected its four stomachs (sperm whales, although predators, have digestive processes similar to ruminants), they found almost 100 plastic bags and other pieces of debris. One bag had the telephone number of a souvlaki restaurant in Thessaloniki. The scientists joked, grimly, that the whale could not call up to complain about the damage caused by their product.

The scale of the fate of the North Sea whales calls to mind the nesting albatrosses of Midway Island, so poignantly recorded by photographer Chris Jordan. He documented the skeletal remains of young chicks, so bloated with the plastic they had been mistakenly fed by their parents – from beer can loops and bottle tops to cigarette lighters – that they had starved from lack of nutrition.

Our use and abuse of animals seems in inverse proportion to the almost ritual reverence in which we purport to hold them. Whales have become the marine icon of ecological threat. We pay obeisance to their grandeur. But sometimes I wonder if it isn’t all an illusion. We congratulate ourselves for having stopped hunting them (well, most of them). Yet many thousands of cetaceans are compromised or killed by the pollution we allow to escape into the ocean. We cannot make the direct connection between the plastic bottles of water and what they are doing to the ultimate source of their supply. Whales are still victims of our industrialisation, our insatiable thirst for growth at the expense of all else – if in not such a direct way as they were in the past.

Recently, visiting the secret storage unit where London’s Natural History Museum stows the thousands of specimens that they are unable – or reluctant – to display in the museum, the curator of vertebrates, Richard Sabin, showed me a nondescript cardboard box in a corner. He suggested I look inside. When I opened it, I found block after block of solid, pure, spermaceti wax, the solidified oil from the sperm whale’s head.

Whales, in boxes – that’s how we saw them. It was for this substance that American and British whaleships travelled to the South Seas. This stuff that, when liquid, lit the streets of London, New York, Berlin and Paris. It made candles and makeup; lubricated the machines of the industrial revolution. So fine is spermaceti oil that Nasa used it in their space mission, as it does not freeze in outer space.

It is the materiality of the whale that haunts me. What it has provided, albeit unwittingly, to allow us to furnish and light our own lives. Even sperm whale excretions – in the form of ambergris – are the most valuable natural substances known to us, still used as a fixative in high-fashion perfumes. Set that usage against what we now know to be cultural animals, deeply bound by family ties. Of course, it is what makes us most alike that ultimately touches us – and which may be the saving of us both. I told Meera Syal, when we met at Radio 4 the other day, that whale society is entirely matriarchal, and in some species, male whales stay with their mothers all their lives. “Ah,” she said, “they’re Indian whales.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/30/plastic-debris-killing-sperm-whales

Plastic bag-swallowing sperm whales – victims of our remorseless progress | Environment

amp.theguardian.com
Plastic bag-swallowing sperm whales – victims of our remorseless progress | Environment
Philip Hoare

Plastic bags have been blamed for the deaths of sperm whales in the Mediterranean. The Athens-based Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute found that more than a third of the sperm whales found dead in Greek waters had stomachs blocked by plastic waste. But this comes as no surprise to whale watchers.

In a plangent 2011 report by same researchers on a mass sperm-whale stranding, a combination of factors – noise from naval exercises, dehydration and stress that caused toxic chemicals and heavy metals to be released from the whales’ body fat – was found to have caused them to beach. The scene of the dying whales moved the scientists to unusually emotive language as they recorded finding them “agonising on the shore”.

Postmortems of some of the 29 sperm whales that stranded around the North Sea coasts in January 2016 found plastic in their stomachs – including large pieces from cars. But many other factors come into play. Another recent report indicated that intense solar activity in the winter of 2016 may have interfered with the whales’ navigational systems, which rely on electromagnetic pathways on the Earth’s surface. The fact that the same activity caused a spectacular display of northern lights only seemed to echo the sense of the deaths of these huge, sentient and social creatures as omens of the fallout from our disruption of the natural world.

Related: Facing extinction, the North Atlantic right whale cannot adapt. Can we? | Philip Hoare

That Mediterranean whales are swallowing hundreds of plastic bags speaks to a terrible disconnect in the narrative of human and natural history. In the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, sperm whales were hunted for their oil, which played a key role in the industrial revolution, for light and lubrication. Even as late as the 1980s, sperm whales were being killed in their hundreds off the Azores in the mid-Atlantic. But by that time, no one had a use for their oil, and their bones were ground up for use as plant fertilizer. It seems ironic that some of the plastic ingested by the sperm whales of the Mediterranean has come from intensive fruit and vegetable production.

Even though we stopped hunting these whales (after the 1986 moratorium), it seems they are fated to remain victims of our remorseless progress.

https://amp.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2018/may/23/plastic-bag-swallowing-sperm-whales-are-victims-of-our-remorseless-progress?__twitter_impression=true

Senators Call for Study on the Critically Endangered Right Whale

markey.senate.gov
Senators Call for Study on the Critically Endangered Right Whale
Thursday, April 26, 2018
2-3 minutes

Washington (April 26, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter this week with 11 of his Senate colleagues requesting that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conduct an urgent assessment of the impacts to the North Atlantic right whale from fisheries in Canada. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, NOAA Fisheries conducts studies that inform whether the Department of Commerce will take action against foreign fisheries that do not protect marine mammals. Over the past decades, fishing communities across New England have taken steps to reduce impacts on marine mammals. Unfortunately, last year the significant majority of observed right whale deaths were in Canadian waters. This year, Canada’s Minister of Oceans and Fisheries did announce new steps to address the right whale crisis. However, NOAA has not yet assessed if those efforts will be sufficient under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

“Now is the right time to do the right thing for the North Atlantic right whale,” write the Senators in their letter to NOAA Acting Administrator Dr. Timothy Gaulludet. “We need a rapid but sound assessment that can direct any next steps that will need to be taken to save this critically endangered mammal.”

A copy of the letter can be found here. https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senators-call-for-study-on-the-critically-endangered-right-whale.

Also signing the letter are Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

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https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senators-call-for-study-on-the-critically-endangered-right-whale

Petition: 200 Whales Could Be Killed if Iceland Allows Whaling

by: Care2 Team
target: Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir

22,580 SUPPORTERS
25,000 GOAL
June 10th, 2018 — that’s Dooms Day for the fin whales off the coast of Iceland.

That’s because, after a two-year respite, Hvalur, inc – the Icelandic whaling company has given notice that it has begun preparations for whaling season and will commence hunting this summer.

Fin whales are an endangered marine mammal, and while some species might be regionally in jeopardy, the fin whale is at risk of being hunted to extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

That’s why it is extremely baffling that Iceland, one of the most progressive nations on Earth, would allow one of its companies. Hvalur, Inc is responsible for the agonizing death of countless. The innocent mammals are harpooned, dragged in and then secured to the side of the ship. If they aren’t already dead, they must endure an excruciating trip back to shore before they are finally butchered and sent off to Japan for consumption.

Altogether, some 200 whales could meet be murdered if Iceland doesn’t ban this barbaric practice.

Ask Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir to do what is right. Sign the petition and ask Iceland to put an end to whaling now.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/908/719/364/

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

A right whale feeding just below the surface of Cape Cod Bay offshore from Wellfleet, Massachusetts.  Photograph Right Whale Research /AP

By Joanna Walters @Jonnawalters13

Mon 26 Feb 201816:04EST

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.

A lobster fisherman in Maine. Right whales can become entangled and ropes used for fishing. Photograph: Daniel Grill/Tetra images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

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

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

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

Petition: Prevent the Extinction of the North Atlantic Right Whale

Update. It’s devastating news. The 2018 winter calving season for these critically endangered whales just ended without a single newborn calf being spotted off the southeast U.S. coast.

The North Atlantic right whale is under threat of extinction. Only 450 still exist, and of these only about a hundred are breeding females.

2017 was a particularly terrible year for these endangered marine mammals: 17 have been found dead, many as a result of collisions with vessels or entanglement with fishing gear. In 2018, reseaearchers haven’t spotted a single newborn all breeding season.

https://www.thepetitionsite.com/549/897/838/prevent-the-extinction-of-the-north-atlantic-right-whale/?TAP=1724

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

Petition: Stop Japan’s Antarctic Whale Massacre


https://www.thepetitionsite.com/653/718/090/stop-japan%E2%80%99s-antarctic-whale-massacre/

Petition: Stop Japan From Slaughtering Whales for ‘Research’

Nearly  200 whales were killed by Japanese whalers this year, including a number of endangered whales. Sign this petition to call for the end of this cruel and barbaric practice that slaughters these majestic cetaceans and puts them at risk of extinction.

Source: Stop Japan From Slaughtering Whales for ‘Research’

#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

Petition Avaaz – Stop the world’s biggest whale slaughter


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