Tag Archives: humpback whales

Death by Killer Algae

They didn’t think much of the first dead whale. Dwarfed by the rugged cliffs of Patagonia’s high green fjords, the team of biologists had sailed into a gulf off the Pacific Ocean searching for the ocean’s smaller animals, the marine invertebrates they were there to inventory. That night, while hunting for an anchorage in a narrow bay, the team spotted a large, dead whale floating on the water’s surface. But for the biologists, death—even of such an enormous animal—didn’t seem so unusual. Not so unusual, that is, until they found the second whale, lying on the beach. And a third. And a fourth. In all, they found seven in that bay alone. Over the next day, they counted a total of 25 dead whales in the fjord. click here to read the story 15:42

Increase in humpback whales in B.C. waters results in record number of entanglements

pacific-humpbackPaul Cottrell, marine mammal coordinator with the federal fisheries department, has received reports of a record 22 whale entanglements in the province so far this year, including 21 humpbacks and one grey whale. In a typical year there are 10 to 15. “It’s a very unfortunate series of incidents,” Cottrell said Thursday. “We’re interested in investigating to find out what happened and what can be done to prevent it going forward.” Humpbacks have been recovering steadily since the era of commercial whaling but have been observed in unusually high numbers off B.C. this year. They are also staying longer before migrating to breeding and calving grounds in Hawaii and Mexico. “It’s amazing the number of humpbacks we’re seeing in inshore waters,” Cottrell said. “Southern Alaska is seeing a lot fewer humpbacks this year so they may have shifted to our area. Their entanglements are drastically down.” Read the rest here 19:59

NOAA: Successful conservation efforts pay off for humpback whales

na_img_hump_introEndangered humpback whales in nine of 14 newly identified distinct population segments have recovered enough that they don’t warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries said today. International conservation efforts to protect and conserve whales over the past 40 years proved successful for most populations. Four of the distinct population segments are still protected as endangered, and one is now listed as threatened. “Today’s news is a true ecological success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Whales, including the humpback, serve an important role in our marine environment. Separately managing humpback whale populations that are largely independent of each other allows us to tailor conservation approaches for each population.” Read the rest here Read the press release here with links 09:15

Central Coast Crab fishermen making sacrifices to protect whales

dungenesscrabIt’s been a rough season for crab fishermen after a domoic acid outbreak kept them out of the water for months. And now that they’re finally allowed to fish, many are choosing to wrap-up early in an effort to protect whales in the Monterey Bay. It’s feeding time for humpback whales but because of the delay in crab season, whales are getting caught in fishing gear that’s normally not in the water this time of year. That’s why crab fisherman, ocean advocacy groups and governmental agencies are teaming up to prevent whale entanglements in the Monterey Bay. “We’re doing everything we can to reduce entanglements and working with the environmental groups and whale disentanglement teams to alter our gear types and ways we fish to reduce entanglements,” said commercial fisherman Walter Deyerle. Read the rest here 18:03

NOAA proposes new status for humpback whales – Change would remove majority from endangered species list

If the proposal is approved, 10 of 14 populations worldwide would be delisted, including the West Indies population, which swims through Cape waters. The West Indies population has grown to about 12,000, according to NOAA officials. Peter Mason, a commercial lobsterman, was one of about 20 people who listened to the presentation. He supported the proposal. “Now they’ve come back, they should be taken off,” he said. Read the rest here 09:56

Research reveals bottom feeding techniques of tagged humpback whales in Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary

The study further states that the observed feeding behavior also leads to vulnerability to entanglement in bottom set fishing gear,  an issue which is a major mortality factor for the species. This finding reaffirms a NOAA Fisheries regulation that mandates the use of sinking line between fishing traps used in the lobster fishery as a way of reducing entanglements. [email protected] 16:21

Genetic study pursues elusive goal: How many humpbacks existed before whaling?

Scientists from Stanford University, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, and other organizations are closing in on the answer to an important conservation question: how many humpback whales once existed in the North Atlantic? Read more