Tag Archives: Marine Animals

145 pilot whales die in stranding on New Zealand beach


Beached pilot whales. Photo source: ©© Angieandsteeve
“Of all cetaceans – whales and dolphins – pilot whales are the species most likely to strand themselves. Their name itself, pilot whale, comes from their propensity to follow a single leader…” Captions: Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan or, The Whale

Excerpts;

A group of 145 pilot whales stranded themselves on a remote New Zealand beach and died…

Read Full Article; CBS News (11-26-2018)

Mass Stranding: Hundreds of Pilot Whales Beach Themselves Again; LiveScience (02-11-2017)
NASA scientists have launched a study of a more far-out idea: that solar storms mess with the internal compasses of whales and dolphins, leading to stranding events. Experts at Massey University are expected to undertake animal autopsies, or necropsies, of some of the pilot whales today, according to the DOC.

Mass Strandings of Pilot Whales: A Study, Science Daily (03-14-2013)
Biologists since Aristotle have puzzled over the reasons for mass strandings of whales and dolphins, in which groups of up to several hundred individuals drive themselves up onto a beach…

Are humans to blame for mass whale strandings? by Philip Hoare, Guardian UK (05-201-2011)

What makes this New Zealand beach a whale graveyard? BBC News (02-13-2017)

Watching Out for Whales


NASA Earth Observatory maps by Lauren Dauphin using whale likelihood data from WhaleWatch.

By Kathryn Hansen, NASA / Earth Observatory;

The blue whale—the largest animal on Earth—measures on average 27 meters (89 feet) long. But its impressive size does not mean the species is safe in the sea. A national database for marine mammal health reported that collisions with ships killed 10 of the 12 blue whales found dead along the California coast between 2007-2017. Not included in that count were whales that were struck and sunk, injured in a collision, or tangled in fishing gear.

In 2015, scientists presented a new online tool called WhaleWatch aimed at preventing potentially deadly encounters between whales and ships. Partly funded by the NASA Applied Sciences Program and produced by a team of scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Oregon State University, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the program uses satellite data on environmental conditions to make monthly estimates of where whales are most likely to be located along the Pacific coast of the United States and Canada. WhaleWatch data are now regularly updated and available from NOAA.

Elliott Hazen, a NOAA researcher who led the development of the model, likens the tool to the apps that help auto drivers avoid traffic during their commute. “If a certain road has high traffic, you’ll likely have to slow down and you may want to explore another route,” Hazen said. “We hope that the WhaleWatch product can work in exactly the same way.”

The map above shows a whale likelihood estimate for September 2018. Light-colored areas had a higher chance of an encounter. The map is derived from a wide range of environmental variables detected by satellites from NASA and other agencies. Two of these variables—cooler waters and an intermediate amount of the pigment known as chlorophyll-a—are the main factors that bring more whales.

“This is likely due to an ecological lag where high chlorophyll brings in higher amounts of krill, that then attract the feeding whales,” Hazen said.

Factors attracting whale location vary over time, and WhaleWatch can tell you how. The maps above show extreme ends of the spectrum, when the likely presence of whales in 2018 was comparatively low (February) and high (July).

WhaleWatch data like these are delivered directly to NOAA’s West Coast Region office, which manages the whale population in the California Current. Management for ship strike risk in California is currently voluntary, but according to Hazen: “The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and organizations like the Benioff Ocean Initiative are doing a lot of work to explore ways that tools like this can be helpful in reducing ship strike risk.”

Original Article; NASA / Earth Observatory (11-01-2018)

Study: Why Blue Whales Can’t Avoid Barges, Ocean Liners, Huffington Green (05-06-2015)
A new study reveals why ocean-going ships pose such a big threat to the whales: the gentle giants simply don’t know how to get out of the way…

World Must Tackle the Biggest Killer of Whales – and it’s not Whaling; IPS News (10-24-2016)

Larger marine animals at higher risk of extinction, and humans are to blame, Science Daily (09-14-2016)
In today’s oceans, larger-bodied marine animals are more likely to become extinct than smaller creatures, according to a Stanford-led report. It’s a pattern that is unprecedented in the history of life on Earth, and one that is likely driven by human fishing…

Are humans to blame for mass whale strandings? by Philip Hoare, Guardian UK (05-20-2011)

“FREIGHTENED – The Real Price of Shipping,” a movie by multi award-winning filmmaker Denis Delestrac-©-2016; (03-31-2016)
90% of the goods we consume in the West are manufactured in far-off lands and brought to us by ship. The cargo shipping industry is a key player in world economy and forms the basis of our very model of modern civilisation; without it, it would be impossible to fulfil the ever-increasing demands of our societies. Yet the functioning and regulations of this business remain largely obscure to many, and its hidden costs affect us all. Due to their size, freight ships no longer fit in traditional city harbours; they have moved out of the public’s eye, behind barriers and check points…

Dolphins are simplifying their calls to be heard over shipping noise


Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

The world’s oceans are getting noisier, humming with the near-constant sounds of ship engines, seafloor mining, and oil and gas exploration.

Now, a new study published in the journal Biology Letters has found that dolphins are being forced to simplify their calls in order to be heard over the noise…

Read Full Article; Yale E360 (10-24-2018)

Sonic Sea, Film Documentary; NRDC May 19th, 2016
Oceans are a sonic symphony. Sound is essential to the survival and prosperity of marine life. But man-made ocean noise is threatening this fragile world. “Sonic Sea” is about protecting life in our waters from the destructive effects of oceanic noise pollution…

Marine noise pollution stresses and confuses fish; Science Daily (08-10-2017)
Increased noise pollution in the oceans is confusing fish and compromising their ability to recognise and avoid predators…

Ship noise in coastal habitats could interfere with orca’s communication; Science Daily (02-03-2016)

Accoustic Pollution and Marine Mammals, Nature
In the Canary Islands, 14 beaked whales washed ashore bleeding from the ears. All eventually died. A post-mortem examination revealed that the whales showed signs of decompression sickness (what scuba divers call “the bends”). Decompression sickness can occur when a mammal swims to the ocean’s surface too quickly, and the change in pressure produces lethal nitrogen gas bubbles that clog its blood vessels. Evidence of acute decompression sickness indicates unusual behavior. Over the past 40 years, cumulative research across the globe has revealed a coincidence between naval sonar testing events and acute decompression sickness in beached marine mammals…

Whales Benefit From Action On Ocean Noise, BBC News (03-04-2013)

A Rising Tide of Noise Is Now Easy to See, The New York Times (12-15-2012)

Navy study: Sonar, Blasts Might Hurt More Sea Life (05-14-2012)

Accoustic Pollution and Naval Sonar testing, Discover Magazine (01-26-2012)

“FREIGHTENED – The Real Price of Shipping,” a movie by multi award-winning filmmaker Denis Delestrac-©-2016; (03-31-2016)
90% of the goods we consume in the West are manufactured in far-off lands and brought to us by ship. The cargo shipping industry is a key player in world economy and forms the basis of our very model of modern civilisation; without it, it would be impossible to fulfil the ever-increasing demands of our societies. Yet the functioning and regulations of this business remain largely obscure to many, and its hidden costs affect us all. Due to their size, freight ships no longer fit in traditional city harbours; they have moved out of the public’s eye, behind barriers and check points…

A Silent Victory For Marine Mammals, On Earth Magazine (04-03-2015)
A federal judge stands up to the noisy navy for the sake of marine mammals…

PCB pollution threatens to wipe out killer whales


Photo source: ©© Giuseppe Milo

Excerpts;

More than 40 years after the first initiatives were taken to ban the use of PCBs, the chemical pollutants remain a deadly threat to animals at the top of the food chain.

A new study shows that the current concentrations of PCBs can lead to the disappearance of half of the world’s populations of killer whales from the most heavily contaminated areas within a period of just 30-50 years…

Read Full Article; Science Daily (09-27-2018)

PCB chemical threat to Europe’s killer whales and dolphins; BBC News (01-14-2016)

Dolphin Deaths in Florida’s Red Tide Disaster Prompt Federal Investigation


Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

Excerpts;

Federal wildlife officials are investigating dozens of dolphin deaths off Florida’s southwest coast which has been experiencing a severe red tide…

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries agency has declared the deaths an “unusual mortality event.” The declaration allows the agency to gather resources to study the ongoing deaths.

Read Full Article; Weather News (09-01-2018)

Why Florida’s red tide is killing fish, manatees, and turtles; Vox (09-02-2018)

Red tide is devastating Florida’s sea life. Are humans to blame? National Geographic (08-08-2018)
Thousands of sea creatures now litter many of southern Florida’s typically picturesque beaches. “Anything that can leave has, and anything that couldn’t leave has died…”

Worst “red tide” toxic algae bloom in years killing turtles, manatees in Florida; CBS News (08-02-2018)

What is a red tide? MNN (08-02-2018)

Toxic Algal Blooms Aren’t Just Florida’s Problem. And They’re On The Rise. Huffington Green (07-07-2016)