Pilot whale dies in Thailand with more than 17 pounds of plastic in its stomach

June 5, 2018 by  
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A small male pilot whale, found unable to breath or move in a canal in Thailand  last week, has died from large amounts of plastic clogging its digestive system. After being found near the Malaysia border, the pilot whale was treated by veterinarians while kept afloat by buoys and protected from harmful solar radiation by umbrellas. Despite days of effort, the whale ultimately passed away, but not before vomiting up five plastic bags. Upon post-mortem investigation, it was discovered that the whale had ingested more than 17 pounds of plastic, including 80 shopping bags, which had inhibited its ability to eat. Scientists believe that the pilot whale mistakenly identified plastic as food, eating it until full. “At some point their stomach fills up with trash and they can’t eat real food,” Regina Asmutis-Silvia, executive director for Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s North American operations, told National Geographic . “You’re not getting any nutrients in and you’ve basically completely clogged your digestive system.” This particular whale’s death is symbolic of a much larger problem plaguing marine life. “We have no idea how many animals aren’t showing up on a beach ,” Asmutis-Silvia said. “This is one pilot whale, this doesn’t consider other species. It’s symbolic at best, but it’s symbolic of an incredibly significant problem.” Related: Orca learns to mimic human speech for the first time About 18 billion pounds of plastic are dumped into oceans each year, while more than 300 marine animal species are known to have been killed by plastic pollution in Thailand’s waters. The Thai government has proposed enacting a tax on plastic bags to reduce the amount of plastic polluting the world’s waters. In addition to policy changes, individuals and communities are encouraged to fight plastic pollution by recycling and reducing their own plastic use. Saving the whales, which are known as the gardeners of the sea for their role in fertilizing oceanic ecosystems, is in humanity’s self interest. “It should be a huge red flag for us as a species,” warned Asmutis-Silvia, “that we need to stop killing ourselves.” Via National Geographic Images via Barney Moss and Ron Knight

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Pilot whale dies in Thailand with more than 17 pounds of plastic in its stomach

Transforming the Aral Sea’s dead zone into a forest could save lives

June 5, 2018 by  
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Once, the Aral Sea provided fish for the Karakalpak people of Uzbekistan . Today, it has dwindled to a mere 10 percent of its old size . Toxic chemicals in the sea bed, now exposed, have endangered human health . But saxaul trees could prevent wind from carrying contaminated sand into the air. Forestation specialist Orazbay Allanazarov told the BBC, “One fully grown saxaul tree can fix up to 10 tonnes of soil around its roots.” The plan is to cover the whole dried sea bed — millions of hectares — with trees. The Aral Sea began withering away in the 1960s as the Soviets diverted water for cotton fields from two main rivers flowing into the sea. As the volume of water in the sea slumped, the concentration of salt increased and poisoned fish. Almas Tolvashev, a former fisherman, told the BBC, “There were 250 ships here. I used to catch 600 to 700 kilos of fish every day. Now there is no sea.” Related: “It has totally changed how people feel:” new forest transforms former UK coal community And it wasn’t just the loss of fish that caused issues. Pesticides and herbicides from cotton plantations ended up in the sea. When it went dry, sandstorms picked up the toxic chemicals exposed on the sea bed and humans inhaled them — with dire consequences. The BBC pointed to one study that discovered the incidents of liver cancer doubled from 1981 to 1991. Locals experienced reduced fertility, stunted growth, elevated rates of cancer and heart and lung problems. Authorities didn’t acknowledge the Aral Sea’s disappearance until after the Soviet Union’s fall. Saxaul trees, a shrub-like tree native to central Asia’s deserts, are able to survive in salty, dry soil, and they could offer an answer. Workers have covered around half a million hectares of the desert with the trees — but there are more than three million hectares to go. The BBC said it could take 150 years to cultivate a forest at the current pace, but there’s hope the trees could improve quality of life for the Karakalpak people. “We are slow,” Allanazarov said. “We need to speed up the process. But for this we need more money, more foreign investment.” Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Transforming the Aral Sea’s dead zone into a forest could save lives

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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Whale mother can’t let go of dead calf likely poisoned by plastic

November 20, 2017 by  
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The impact of humanity’s pollution on nature became all too real in a heartbreaking clip from Blue Planet II . A mother pilot whale grieved her dead baby, carrying it around with her. The calf may have died because of industrial chemicals – and our plastic littering the oceans . A preview for episode four of BBC One’s Blue Planet II revealed a tragic scene: a mother pilot whale who seemingly couldn’t let go of her dead calf. The calf might have been poisoned by the mother’s milk, contaminated with pollutants of ours which enter the oceans. Narrator David Attenborough said she’d been carrying the baby for several days. “In top predators like these, industrial chemicals can build up to lethal levels. And plastic could be part of the problem. As plastic breaks down, it combines with these other pollutants that are consumed by vast numbers of marine creatures,” Attenborough said in the video. Related: Plankton Pundit video shows exact moment plastic enters the food chain Pilot whales possess large brains, Attenborough explained in the video, and have the capacity to feel emotions. He said the adults’ behavior following the death of the calf reveals its loss impacted the whole family. “Unless the flow of plastics and industrial pollution into the world’s oceans is reduced, marine life will be poisoned by them for many centuries to come,” he said. Around eight million metric tons of plastic enters Earth’s oceans every single year, according to the Blue Planet II website, and can kill ocean creatures. They offered several suggestions for how concerned viewers can get involved with ocean conservation , such as picking up trash or downloading the Beat the Microbead app, which tells users if a cosmetic or household product contains microbeads so they can avoid purchasing it (click the links to download for Android or iOS ). + Blue Planet II Images via BBC on YouTube

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Iceland won’t be hunting endangered whales this summer

February 26, 2016 by  
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Iceland is often listed as the greenest country in the world, but one industry puts a black stain on their green record – whaling . In 1986, the International Whaling Commission issued a moratorium on commercial whaling , but Iceland ignored the ruling and continued to whale ., propelled by fishing mogul Kristjan Loftsson. However, with international pressures adding up, this year he called off the hunt , putting us one step closer to ending the practice. Read the rest of Iceland won’t be hunting endangered whales this summer

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New Zealand is about to create one of the world’s largest marine reserves

September 30, 2015 by  
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New Zealand has announced plans to turn a vast area of the South Pacific, about 600 miles northeast of New Zealand’s North Island, into a marine sanctuary. The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary is almost the size of Texas and includes the Kermadec Islands archipelago as well as a chain of underwater volcanoes . The government plans to pass legislation next year to create the sanctuary in what New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key called “one of the most geographically and geologically diverse areas in the world.” Read the rest of New Zealand is about to create one of the world’s largest marine reserves

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This Livestream of Japan’s Brutal Taiji Cove Dolphin Slaughter Will Horrify You

September 26, 2014 by  
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The waters around Taiji Cove have been stained red since the beginning of September due to Japan’s annual dolphin slaughter – and the blood continues to flow today as we bear witness to a pod of 20-25 pilot whales being butchered mercilessly alongside their family members. Sea Shepherd is showing this slaughter via a livestream today at 1:30pm PT , and although the scene will be nothing short of devastating, it’s images like these that spur people into action. A quota of 2,000 dolphins and small whales was approved for slaughter this year, and this particular pod was corralled yesterday in the cove, where they have been huddled together in terror, waiting to be butchered. WATCH THE TAIJI COVE LIVESTREAM HERE > Read the rest of This Livestream of Japan’s Brutal Taiji Cove Dolphin Slaughter Will Horrify You Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: baby dolphin , baby whale , cetacean , cetaceans , dolphin , dolphins , livestream , pilot whale , Sea Shepherd , stabbing , Taiji , taiji cove , taiji dolphin slaughter , Taiji slaughter , taiji whale slaughter , whale , whale murder , whales

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New Research Shows the Earth’s Water is Older Than the Sun

September 26, 2014 by  
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Hang on to your chair and prepare to have your mind blown. That water in the glass bottle on your desk is old, and I mean unfathomably ancient – even older than the Sun, according to new research. Motherboard reports that scientists have known for some time that the water on Earth is really old , but new research recently published in the journal Science shows that it’s even older than previously thought, and actually predates the formation of our solar system. The news increases the chances that water is present on other planets, along with other forms of life. Read the rest of New Research Shows the Earth’s Water is Older Than the Sun Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: deuterium , disk , earth , earth’s water is older than the sun , formation , heavy , heavy water , ice , interstellar , old water , older , protoplanetary , solar , system , than , water is older than the sun , water issues

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Japanese Government Officials Feast on Whale Meat to Protest World Court Ruling

April 18, 2014 by  
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In a show of defiance against a  recent court ruling by the UN’s International Court of Justice , hundreds of Japanese government officials, lawmakers, and pro-whaling lobbyists attended a feast that consisted almost entirely of various whale meat delicacies. At the event, which was held on Tuesday near Japan’s parliament, the attendees all vowed to continue whale hunts despite the ruling. There was even a toast which involved everyone at the event cheering in unison, ”Whale!” Read the rest of Japanese Government Officials Feast on Whale Meat to Protest World Court Ruling Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: government officials eat whale meat to protest ban on whaling , Japan defies UN court ruling with a whale meat banquet , Japanese Antarctic whaling expeditions , Japanese culture of coastal whaling , Japanese official hold a whale meat buffet in protest of world court ruling , Japanese whaling expeditions might continue , whale meat culture in Japan

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Yeast-Based Ingredient Could Replace “Whale Vomit” in Perfume

April 15, 2012 by  
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Perfume bottles photo via Shutterstock Did you know that that bottle of pricey perfume sitting atop your dresser likely contains wale vomit? For centuries, designer perfume makers have used ambergris , a wax-like ingredient spit up by whales as a fragrance fixative for perfume. Because the rock-like globs can fetch as much as $20,000 per kilogram and because sperm wales are endangered, scientists at the University of British have been working to synthesize a viable replacement for ambergris, and they may have found one in yeast. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ambergris , Cologne , fragrance , perfume , science , sperm whales , University of British Columbia , whale , yeast

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