World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

June 28, 2018 by  
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In 2019, two beluga whales, named Little Grey and Little White, will be transported from the Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai to the world’s first whale sanctuary in a protected bay in Iceland . Established by the SEA LIFE Trust in collaboration with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation , the 32,000-square-meter Beluga Whale Sanctuary site was chosen for its sub-arctic climate and seclusion. “It’s really important for Little White and Little Grey, providing them with a more natural home in which to live out the rest of their lives,” head of the SEA LIFE Trust Andy Bool told Reuters . The whales are already being prepped for their journey and the colder waters of their new home through exercises designed to increase their strength and their ability to hold their breath underwater. With its stores of blubber and echolocation refined for finding holes in the sea ice through which to breathe, the beluga whale is well adapted to Arctic waters. The beluga is also a very social animal, typically living in groups of up to 10, though gatherings of hundreds or thousands of whales can occur in summer. While the species as a whole is not considered threatened, populations in certain regions, such as the Cook Inlet in Alaska , are endangered. Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” In addition to their exercise regimen, Little Grey and Little White, both 12-year-old females, will be fed increased calories and gradually eased into using a stretcher, with which they will be restrained for part of their journey to their new home. Those who have made this sanctuary possible hope that it will set an example for other wildlife entertainment parks to release their animals into the wild. Whale and Dolphin Conservation captivity campaign manager Cathy Williamson told Reuters , “We believe this will inspire other facilities to move their belugas and other whales and dolphins to sanctuaries in other parts of the world.” + SEA LIFE Trust + Whale and Dolphin Conservation Via Reuters Images via Salva Barbera and Sheila Sund

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World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

May 8, 2018 by  
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People have occasionally glimpsed tailless whales in western North America, but a recent spike in sightings has troubled scientists. This year alone, at least three flukeless gray whales have been spotted near California. Ship collisions or killer whale attacks probably aren’t to blame for the injuries; entanglement in fishing equipment is likely the cause. National Geographic reported that when whales are feeding in areas with debris, man-made objects or fishing gear, nets or ropes can get stuck at their tail’s base, slowly sawing off their flukes. Ropes and nets can also cut off blood circulation, causing a whale’s tail to wither away. Entangled whales may not survive, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ‘s (NOAA) California stranding network coordinator Justin Viezbecke. “The majority of them — if not all of them — are going to most likely die from these injuries,” Viezbecke said. Related: Unusually high number of humpback whale deaths prompts NOAA inquiry Losing a tail makes life difficult for whales. Feeding becomes a challenge; the limb serves as a propeller as they navigate to the seafloor and seek out crustaceans. The long migration from Mexico birthing grounds to Arctic feeding grounds can also be hard without a tail. Flukeless mother whales are less capable of defending their babies from killer whales . According to whale biologist Alisa Schulman-Janiger, some whales can adapt to the handicap. Brooke Palmer — who posted a YouTube video of a tailless whale near Newport Beach, California earlier this year — said in the video description that the whale was doing “seemingly well as it adapted to the loss of an integral limb. It is sad, but inspirational how resilient and adaptive these beautiful mammals can be.” The increase in tailless gray whale sightings matches up with what National Geographic called a general increase in whale entanglements. There was an average of 10 incidents a year between 2000 and 2012, but in 2017, there were 31 incidents, according to NOAA whale disentangler Pieter Folkens. Folkens said the reason behind the rise is unknown, although it could be possible that people are better at spotting the whales. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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A spike in tailless whale sightings worries scientists

World’s rarest marine mammal could face extinction under Trump administration

March 26, 2018 by  
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Under 30 vaquita porpoises live in the wild — but Donald Trump’s administration may be violating federal laws that could protect the animals, according to a lawsuit recently filed by conservation groups and reported on by Mother Jones . Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) staff attorney Giulia Good Stefani said in a statement  that the lawsuit “might be the vaquita’s last chance.” Will vaquitas vanish forever? Environmental groups are concerned they might, and the NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity , and Animal Welfare Institute are calling out Trump’s administration for failing to protect what the World Wildlife Fund calls the world’s rarest  marine mammal . The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act  requires the Secretary of the Treasury to “ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards.” The vaquita can drown in gill nets, which are used to catch seafood , but the Trump administration has not banned seafood harvested with these nets in the Gulf of California, the sole habitat of the vaquita. Related: Trump administration ‘declares war’ on West Coast turtles, dolphins, and whales Gill nets kill around 50 percent of the vaquita population every single year — and, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, the creatures might even go extinct next year if fishing practices aren’t changed. Mexico  also hasn’t permanently banned all gill nets in the Gulf of California, though scientists have recommended they do so. And Animal Welfare Institute’s marine animal program director, Susan Millward, said the United States is “a leading importer of fish products caught in the upper Gulf of California.” The groups that filed the suit are calling for an immediate US ban on seafood imports that come from the upper Gulf and Mexican shrimp, hoping such a move would pressure Mexico to completely ban gil lnets in the vaquita’s habitat. Millward said, “The U.S. seafood market should not be contributing to the extinction of a species.” + Center for Biological Diversity Via Mother Jones Images via Wikimedia Commons and NOAA Restoration Center, Chris Doley

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World’s rarest marine mammal could face extinction under Trump administration

Tiny village kills thousands of dolphins for their teeth in the Solomon Islands

May 6, 2015 by  
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Between 1976 and 2013, a small village in the Solomon Islands killed 15,400 dolphins —for their teeth. Prized for use as jewelry, currency and even as bride price, the teeth fetched about $0.70 apiece in 2013, according to a report published in the journal Royal Society Open Science . Researchers from the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, Solomon Island’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute traveled to Fanalei in 2013 to investigate reports that the practice of driving and killing dolphins for their teeth had resurfaced despite an arrangement whereby Earth Island Institute would give the villagers cash in return for sparing the dolphins’ lives. In 2013 alone, this one village killed 1,600 dolphins, according to the report. The authors warn that the increasing commercial value of teeth, also used as currency, is likely to accelerate dolphin killing in the future. Via Aquila-Style Image via Shutterstock Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: conservation , dolphin teeth , dolphins , Fanalei , killing dolphins , News , Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute , Royal Society Open Science , Solomon Island’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources , Solomon Islands , South Pacific Whale Research Consortium

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Tiny village kills thousands of dolphins for their teeth in the Solomon Islands

Japan Considers Reducing Antarctic Whaling after UN Court Ruling

April 3, 2014 by  
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After a ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice temporarily halted Japan’s whaling industry in the Antarctic, Japan may consider reducing its catch throughout the region. Japan is one of the few countries left in the world that still practices whaling, and it has been criticized for slaughtering dolphins in towns such as Taiji , collecting whales for “scientific” purposes, and refusing to comply with the International Whaling Commission . Read the rest of Japan Considers Reducing Antarctic Whaling after UN Court Ruling Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: antarctic whaling , australia , fumio kishida , International Whaling Commission , Japan , marine mammal , taiji cove , Tokyo , UN , un international court of justice , whale meat , whale slaughter , whaling , WWII        

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Japan Considers Reducing Antarctic Whaling after UN Court Ruling

Palau Announces Mongolia-Sized Sanctuary for Marine Mammals

October 26, 2010 by  
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Photo via Alexgoodey The dugongs of Palau are one of the most endangered populations of the species, but thanks to the establishment of a new marine sanctuary, these animals along with whales and dolphins will be protected. The island nation declared over 230,000 square miles a marine mammal sanctuary — that’s a safe-zone roughly the size of Mongolia…

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Palau Announces Mongolia-Sized Sanctuary for Marine Mammals

Breaking: US Government to Reduce Emissions 28% by 2020

January 29, 2010 by  
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Photo via the Marine Mammal Conservancy (!) Okay, so I know that I just reported that Obama has formally “associated” the US with a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 17% below 2005 by 2020 levels. But Obama’s not content with that flimsy, unsubstantiated-until-the-Senate-gets-its-ass-in-gear pledge. So he’s decided to lead by example–by having the entire federal government reduce its emissions so it might lead by example.

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Breaking: US Government to Reduce Emissions 28% by 2020

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