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

Plastic-fishing group in Amsterdam turns trash into contemporary furniture

March 12, 2018 by  
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If we remove plastic from the world’s waterways, what happens to it next? Amsterdam -based Plastic Whale , the “first professional plastic-fishing company in the world” according to founder Marius Smit , came up with a creative answer: circular furniture . They teamed up with LAMA Concept and Vepa to design the Plastic Whale Circular Furniture collection, all of which is made with trash fished from the city’s canals. Plastic Whale takes thousands of people plastic fishing in Amsterdam’s canals every year, removing tons of plastic trash, according to their video. They’ve created fishing boats out of plastic collected and then decided to make something new with the garbage: office furniture. They enlisted the help of design firm LAMA Concept to design the pieces, and furniture manufacturer Vepa to produce and sell them. Related: Pentatonic launches new brand of modern furniture made with nothing but trash They’ve created a boardroom table , chairs , a lamp , and an acoustic panel. Vepa director Janwillem de Kam said in a statement , “For the manufacture of the furniture we use PET bottles that have been collected by Plastic Whale. We also melt steel waste into the base of the chair. We are fast moving towards a waste-free factory and even ensure that we process the waste from others in this collection.” Plastic Whale said they also utilize residual fabrics for the chair. LAMA Concept co-owner Yvonne Laurysen said they were inspired by whales for the furniture’s designs : “Think, for example, of the look and feel of the characteristic skin, the adipose tissue, and the impressive skeleton.” Surfacing whales inspired the boardroom table’s appearance, the chairs got their look from the shape of a whale’s tail, barnacles provided inspiration for the lamp, and a whale’s bellow offered the spark for the acoustic panels. When a customer is done with the furniture, they can return it to Vepa, which will create new pieces and even return a deposit. The furniture can be ordered via exclusive dealers with prices available on request; you can email Vepa for more information. Some of the proceeds will go to organizations fighting the plastic problem like SweepSmart in India. You can find out more about Plastic Whale’s collection here . + Plastic Whale + Vepa + LAMA Concept Images via LAMA Concept and courtesy of Vepa

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Plastic-fishing group in Amsterdam turns trash into contemporary furniture

Hundreds of people come together to save beached whale in Brazil

August 25, 2017 by  
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A beached whale is a tragic sight – but a community of sun-worshippers in Brazil refused to sit by when it happened on their beach. Hundreds of people rallied around a stranded humpback whale in Buzios, digging around the animal in hopes of saving its life. They spent hours trying to save the whale, and were rewarded with the return of high tide. A humpback whale was recently stranded on the beach of Praia Rasa in Buzios, and people on the beach jumped into action. They tossed water and dug around the whale to keep it alive for hours. Biologists on site said the whale was young, weighed as much as 15 tons, and was around 45 feet long. Related: Hundreds of whales die in New Zealand’s third largest mass stranding When high tide returned, the whale was at last able to leave the beach. A Buzios City Hall spokesperson said the whale found its way back to the ocean . Amateur video footage shows crowds of people standing on the beach watching the whale reenter the water. We don’t fully understand why whales strand themselves, although several reasons have been suggested. University of Aberdeen professor David Lusseau published a piece on The Conversation detailing some of these reasons, like that whales beach themselves because they are injured or sick, or have become disoriented. They also might behave differently if food stocks plunge, temperatures are strangely low or high, or if pollutants seep into the water. Lusseau said often whales that are returned to the ocean will re-strand themselves hours or days later (especially if they were ill) – but some whales are able to escape. If you come across a beached whale, the charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation said your first response should be to call an expert for help – many countries have stranding networks that can help ensure the whale is treated correctly. Via The Telegraph Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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NOAA has a plan to protect the oceans from troubling noise pollution

June 28, 2016 by  
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As if the world’s marine animals didn’t have enough to worry about — with climate change , ocean acidification, and overfishing threatening their existence — emerging research over the past several decades has also suggested that devastating “noise pollution” could be invisibly destroying their habitats. Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a first of its kind roadmap for researching and managing the impact of ocean noise on marine life. Why is this so important? We’ve learned in recent decades that marine animals rely on sound to communicate with one another, navigate the waters, and generally understand their surroundings. Human activity, such as shipping, industrial work, and military exercises, can make it impossible for these majestic creatures to hear the sounds of the ocean that they rely upon to live. While research has largely focused on the impact this activity has on endangered whales , marine ecologists believe it could affect a much wider variety of organisms, including shrimp, crabs, and sea urchins. The truth is that scientists don’t really understand the scope of the problem, or how many species might be negatively impacted by human-generated noise. Global warming is also exacerbating the problem : sound travels both faster and farther through warm water, meaning that as the sea’s temperature rises, the ocean becomes noisier. NOAA has taken steps in the past to try to mitigate the impact of noise pollution on endangered species and marine mammals, but until now has handled these instances on a case-by-case basis. Mostly, this involved stopping noisy activities for a few moments when whales were spotted near work sites. This may be mildly helpful at the time, but it doesn’t address the cumulative and pervasive pollutant that noise has become. Related: Study Confirms Mass Stranding of Whales Caused by Sonar Mapping The new strategy calls for better protection of the natural soundscape within National Marine Sanctuaries, better use of NOAA’s resources to monitor noise pollution in US waters, better enforcement of marine mammal and endangered species regulations, and the promotion of quieter technologies. The last item is really key to this plan’s success, and might just have the side effect of promoting more sustainable, greener technologies. Right now, the strategy is simply a draft , and has not formally been adopted. The public is invited to submit comments on the new policies through July 1, 2016. Via The Washington Post Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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This beached orca died with a stomach full of garbage

December 31, 2015 by  
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Local residents were delighted when a young female orca appeared near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa earlier this month, coming together to rescue the whale when she was found beached on the shore. Unfortunately, the joy of the rescue was short-lived. Only a week later, the orca was found dead . When researchers performed an autopsy to find out what killed the whale, they found her stomach was full of plastic and garbage. Read the rest of This beached orca died with a stomach full of garbage

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Nine dead fin whales discovered off the coast of Alaska and no one knows what is killing them

June 23, 2015 by  
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In just the last month, nine fin whale carcasses have been discovered in Alaska, and no one knows what is killing them.  The endangered fin whales’ numbers hover in the tens of thousands, so any die off is significant, but since May of this year, nine dead fin whales have been discovered in the water between Kodiak and Unimak Pass, and there is no obvious cause. Kate Wynne, a marine mammal specialist at the University of Alaska said that the event seems to have occurred around Memorial Day weekend and is surprising since it’s rare to spot more than one fin whale carcass every couple of years. Read the rest of Nine dead fin whales discovered off the coast of Alaska and no one knows what is killing them Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alaska fin whales , algae bloom , dead fin whales , endangered fin whales , fin whales dying , fin whales in kodiak , marine mammals , west coast algae bloom , whale deaths in Alaska , whales

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Britain names Pitcairn Island as center of world’s largest marine reserve

March 25, 2015 by  
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When it comes to protecting marine life, Britain is going big. After announcing in February it was considering several locations for preservation, the government revealed plans earlier this week to create what will be the world’s largest fully-protected marine reserve, covering an area of the Pacific Ocean nearly the size of France and Germany combined. Read the rest of Britain names Pitcairn Island as center of world’s largest marine reserve Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: britain , fish , marine life , marine reserve , mutiny on the bounty , ocean , pitcairn islands , seabirds , whales , world’s largest marine reserve

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Britain names Pitcairn Island as center of world’s largest marine reserve

Contemporary Bedford Park House modestly hides its many green features

March 25, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Contemporary Bedford Park House modestly hides its many green features Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , airtight insulation , Alex Tedesco , Bedford Park House , Geothermal power , green house , insulation , LGA Architectural Partners , low-e , Low-e windows , natural ventilation , passive design , passive solar gain , solar heat gain , sustainable house , toronto

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Contemporary Bedford Park House modestly hides its many green features

World’s rarest cetacean could be extinct by 2018 due to illegal gillnetting

December 16, 2014 by  
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The vaquita is the rarest, smallest and most endangered cetacean in the world. It’s estimated that fewer than 100 of the small porpoises remain in their wild habitat in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. To make matters worse, a surge in illegal gillnetting in the area — including in a marine refuge set up to protect the creatures — is resulting in about 18 percent of the vaquita population dying each year as a result of being caught as bycatch . At this rate, it is estimated the vaquita will be extinct in the wild by 2018. Read the rest of World’s rarest cetacean could be extinct by 2018 due to illegal gillnetting Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bycatch , cetacean , critically endangered animals , desert porpoise , dolphins , extinction , gillnetting , Gulf of California , illegal fisheries , illegal fishing , illegal wildlife trade , IUCN , IUCN red list , marine mammals , mexico , Phocoena sinus , porpoise , prawn , rarest cetacean will be extinct by 2018 , S.H.R.I.M.P. , sea creatures , smuggling , vaquita , whales

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TransCanada Stops Pipeline Terminal Construction After Belugas Declared Endangered

December 3, 2014 by  
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Finally some good news on the pipeline beat. Phys.org reports that Canadian energy infrastructure company TransCanada recently decided to suspend construction of a major pipeline terminal on the St. Lawrence River in Eastern Canada after Canadian authorities deemed a nearby population of beluga whales “endangered.” The belugas live near Cacouna, Quebec, the planned location of the terminal, and were given the status of “threatened” when the last formal study of their population was done 10 years ago. Read the rest of TransCanada Stops Pipeline Terminal Construction After Belugas Declared Endangered Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: beluga , endangered , fossil , fuels , oil , pipeline , suspended , terminal , threatened , transcanada , whales

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