Tag Archives: Whales

Ship strikes may be the difference between extinction and survival for whales

Ship strikes pose a serious threat to whales and have the potential to cause highly endangered subspecies to go extinct. The remaining 1.3 million whales left in our oceans are facing an increasing amount of shipping traffic when coming to the surface and travelling to their feeding or breeding areas. Global maritime traffic increased fourfold between 1992 and 2012. In some corners of the world, such as the Arctic, it actually doubled between 2013 and 2018. The number of whales, in the meantime, is on the decline. >click to read< 07:43

Tanker/Whale Strike Update: ENGO says number of whales killed by ships each year in the 1000s

We posted a story about a 32-foot whale carcass was found wedged on the bow of a Japanese tanker as it pulled into harbour. Shocking images, wasn’t much there. The article today has information that is useful to commercial fishermen trying to survive the ridiculous, engo inspired rules regarding fishery restrictions, and rule changes. Ship strikes are known to be one of the leading causes of death for endangered and vulnerable whale populations, according to WWF. Michael Fishbach, executive director and co-founder of the Great Whale Conservancy, an environmental NGO based in North Carolina, told Insider that a dozen whales are killed by a ship for each one that is recorded. >click to read< 10:46

While cargo shipments boom, ship strikes imperil whales in California and worldwide

Earlier this year, horrific photos of two fin whales pinned to the hull of an Australian naval ship gained worldwide attention. The vessel had been conducting exercises in the waters near San Diego. The two bodies, one 65 feet long, the other just 25 feet, were draped over the hull. “Anywhere you have major shipping routes and whales in the same place, you are going to see collisions,” said Russell Leaper, an expert with the International Whaling Commission. “Unfortunately, that’s the situation in many places.” While gray whales and humpbacks make up 70% of the reported strikes in the government’s database, it’s the endangered and threatened populations such as North Atlantic right whales and the gargantuan Pacific blues that concern scientists the most. For those whales, each death comes with a risk of population or species extinction. >click to read< 12:06

Whales, Warming and Offshore Wind Farms – Lobstering is under attack

As Rep. Billy Bob  Faulkingham described it, three seemingly combined forces are aligned and have put the bull’s-eye on the men and women in Maine whose lives depend on lobstering, whales, warming and wind power. The right whale protection consortium has heightened its efforts to alter nearly every aspect of Maine’s primary fishing industry by pushing the federal fisheries agencies to limit, reduce and even eliminate the fishing methods currently employed in the local waters and the Gulf of Maine,,, At best, the supposed science is leaning toward saving whales, with little regard for the men and women who are active conservationists every day while doing their jobs. The warming water folks, often the same groups and agencies that are involved with the right whale restrictions, also want to promote bureaucratic rules that will severely impact all forms of fishing. >click to read< 11:06

Ship strikes: Saving the Whales is Something the Shipping Industry Needs to Address Immediately

It is a little known fact that up to 20,000 whales die each year because of lethal collisions with vessels. When presented with the sight of one of the great mammals lying dead on the bows of a container ship as shown above the message comes home, but for most of the stricken animals they are fated to die unseen beneath the waves.,, Whale ship strikes have now become a significant threat to big cetaceans. Collisions kill 20 times more whales than the controversial practice of whale hunting or whaling. >click to read< 08:50

Two dead whales found lodged under hull of Australian warship docked in San Diego

The whales were discovered as the ship, HMAS Sydney, berthed at Naval Base San Diego, the Australian Royal Navy said in a statement. Experts say the physics of the situation are somewhat common, even if the presence of more than one whale makes this scenario rare.,, John Calambokidis, a leading expert on West Coast ship strikes, said the incident highlights what he’s concluded in his research: ship strikes are dramatically underreported. “We think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or less of the number of ship strikes occurring are getting documented,” >click to read< 08:55

California Commercial Dungeness Crab Update

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) just completed the most recent marine life entanglement risk assessment under the Risk Assessment Mitigation Program (RAMP). Recent survey data indicate most Humpback and Blue whales remain outside of the California fishing grounds, however a few Humpback whales have begun to return to Monterey Bay and the Gulf of the Farallones. As a result, the Director of CDFW has issued a statewide Fleet Advisory for the commercial Dungeness crab fishery for all Fishing Zones (Oregon state line to Mexico). >click to read< 08:22

California: Don’t expect Dungeness Crab for Christmas this year

“Unless a miracle happens, which is highly unlikely, we won’t see crab for Christmas,” said Tony Anello, a veteran fisher who runs his boat, the Annabelle, out of Bodega Bay and offers up his tender product at Spud Point Crab Co. After several years of varied setbacks and more than a month of delays to the 2020 Dungeness season, local crabbers now face a new hurdle as they haggle over price with large wholesalers. “We should be traveling right now,” Dick Ogg,,, wholesalers are asking skippers to cut their prices by 30% to 35%, leaving both sides approximately $1 a pound apart from an agreement that would start the crab season.   >click to read< 08:05

Ben Platt: Whales aren’t at risk from crab fishing along California’s coast

Anyone who lives in or near California’s many historic fishing communities like Morro Bay, Monterey, or Half Moon Bay, has probably heard the term “ropeless” crab fishing gear. That’s the new buzzword for equipment being promoted by environmental groups to solve the perceived problem of whale interactions with fishing gear.,,, Both the East Coast Lobster fishery and the West Coast Dungeness crab fishery, each of which are made up of thousands of independent fishermen, have tested the pop-up “ropeless” gear and found it to be faulty. Meanwhile, strikes by large ships likely cause 50-150 whale deaths a year off the West Coast,,,  >click to read< 07:31

Monterey Bay Fishermen hit with new wave of Dungeness crab season delays

You couldn’t blame crab fishermen Tim and Dan Obert for feeling like they’re passing through the perfect storm. First there was the pandemic, which shut down restaurants and, in turn, much of the demand for Dungeness crab. Then a new regulation took effect on Nov. 1 that heavily restricts the Dungeness fishery’s operations when whales and sea turtles are around. Then the state delayed the opening of the Dungeness crab season until after Thanksgiving. “If you take all three of those things, you will destroy this fishery,” said Tim Obert, 35, of Scotts Valley. “There will be no crabbers left.” >click to read< 08:47

CDFW: Commercial crab season will be delayed due to the presence of whales

The commercial Dungeness crab season in the central management area, which was scheduled to open Sunday, Nov. 15, will be delayed due to the presence of whales within fishing grounds and the potential for entanglement.,, “While no one wants to delay the season, CDFW and the Working Group feel a delay is necessary to reduce the risk of entanglement,”  said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fleet has gone to great lengths to be more nimble in order to protect whales and turtles, and the results are promising. This year for the first time in a long time it looks like we don’t have to worry about domoic acid, which is good news.” >click to read< 15:05

Crab industry, Oregon continue plans to avoid whale entanglement

New regulations for commercial Dungeness crab fishermen in Oregon aim to get boats on the water earlier in the season and reduce the amount of gear to avoid tangling with endangered whales. “Our fleet is made up of 400 individual businesspeople who each bring a different perspective to the issue,” said Hugh Link, the executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. “For over three years, they have been given the opportunity to weigh in on how best to mitigate the whale entanglement risk,” he continued. “But it is an ongoing process. These upcoming meetings are the next important step and we hope they take the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

Bodega Bay Crabbers struggle to protect whales frequenting their waters–while still making a living.

Mark Gentry pauses for an afternoon yerba mate on the dock by his boat, whose deck is littered with crusty lines and vinyl yellow “bib” coveralls. Tall piles of circular mesh crab pots sit idle nearby; this year’s crab season ended early as whales moved through the area.,, Since 2015, crabber Dick Ogg says he and his colleagues have been doing “everything we can to fish alongside the whales and coexist with them,” including starting a lost gear removal program and working to remove potentially dangerous excess slack from buoy lines. They even voluntarily delayed the 2019-2020 crabbing season due to high whale activity.  CDFW senior scientist Ryan Bartling points out that these programs weren’t just implemented by crabbers but actually suggested by them, as part of a working group of fishermen, regulators, and nonprofit representatives who convened to find solutions. >click to read< 18:50

New rules for California Dungeness crab fleet

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday unveiled a batch of complex new rules designed to reduce the risk to endangered whales and sea turtles of becoming entangled in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. The draft regulations are set to be finalized before the next commercial season starts in November after a period of public review. Among the provisions are options to restrict fishing in certain depths, require crabbers to set only a share of the traps for which they’re permitted or limit intervention to any of six newly established geographic zones, rather than the larger Northern and Central California management districts that currently exist. >click to read< 09:14

Supply and Demand – Fishermen In Iceland Will Not Hunt Whales For The First Time In 17 Years

Fishermen from Iceland will not hunt whales this summer, this will the first year in 17 years that the fishermen will abandon the whale hunting season. Owners of fishery companies explained why they will be skipping this season, they said that the low demand for whale meat in countries like Japan has forced them to abandon the whale hunting season this year. Loftsson explained their decision, he said that this was all because of the low demand in the Japanese Market. But according to a captain, the real reason why fishermen were skipping this year’s hunting season is that the permit was not handed out in time. >click to read< 14:03

On This Day in 1958: Fifty whales stranded on Cape Cod

The United Press International wire story began; Tides Strand 50 Whales Off Cape Cod Island WELLFLEET, Mass., July 5 (UPI) — Tides of the Atlantic Ocean that refloated some 100 small whales brought more than half of them back again today… Townsfolk, aware of the problem of removing dead (and very smelly) whales from the sand bars, were joyful when an early morning tide washed most of the mammals free. But the joy was short-lived. The afternoon tide brought about sixty of the whales back onto the shore. >click to read< 08:06

Letter: More awareness needed of fish farms

To the editor: I went to the screening of “Lobster Wars” that occurred at the Cape Ann Museum on June 4. In the panel discussion after the movie, Larry Stepenuck was the only one who brought up the devastating effects and disturbances on the lobstermen and fishermen by the fish farms. These polluting enterprises and associated infrastructure take out huge chunks of the ocean that the fishermen and lobsermen could otherwise fish in (both vertically and horizontally). What’s left is getting slimmer all the time. Here, NOAA wants the lobstermen to develop ropeless lobster traps in order to protect the right whales. Meanwhile, NOAA and the Army Corps of Engineers turned around last year and awarded one of the Saltonstall-Kennedy grants to the development of a fish farm in the Critical Zone. A must read by Sue Waller, Rockport. >click to read<14:13

60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue NOAA under the Endangered Species Act Regarding Sea Grant’s Funding of Offshore Aquaculture Projects – >click to read<

Lobstermen at state hearing wary of regulations to protect whales

“Behind the scenes, they all say exactly the same thing,” Horner, the chairman of the local lobster zone council, said at a state hearing on new right whale protection regulations. “Fishermen could accept (a trap cut), I think, but not if we are going to have more people coming in to fill the gap, especially those from outside.” The Maine Department of Marine Resources kicked off a monthly series of public information sessions on the new whale rules Tuesday. More than 100 lobstermen from the local zone, which runs from Franklin to Frenchboro, turned out.>click to read<11:47

Whales are facing a deadly threat along West Coast: container ships

One day last May, a container ship entered the San Francisco Bay with extra cargo. A 45-foot-long dead female fin whale was draped across the ship’s bow. The impact with the ship had broken her back, ruptured her organs and caused severe internal bleeding. Ten whale deaths were attributed to ship strikes in 2018 – the highest number on record in California since NOAA Fisheries began tracking in 1982. The mortality rate represents an enormous increase from the average 3.4 ship strike victims recorded annually in the five previous years. Five of the 10 whales that died with boat collision injuries in 2018 were endangered or threatened fin, blue and humpback whales. >click to read<15:29

DON CUDDY: Whales, fish stocks and new tech: Catching up with NOAA’s Jon Hare

I was pleased to enjoy a wide-ranging chat with Mr. Jon Hare last week. Jon is the Science and Research Director for NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole. That’s the division of NOAA that is charged with managing “the living marine resources of the Northeast Continental Shelf Ecosystem from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras.” So this man has a lot on his plate. When he began working as director in 2017 I interviewed him about the task ahead and did a follow up last year. So in what has now become an annual event we sat down to talk about how things are going at the Science Center and I found the encounter as interesting as ever. >click to read<18:40

Whales and fishermen caught in turf war over California’s coast

As rising ocean temperatures move their food supplies closer to shore, a staggering number of migrating whales have been forced into the path of California’s crab fishing fleet — and the confrontations have increased dramatically over the last five years. State agencies have tried and failed to keep whales out of crab gear, prompting one nonprofit to take matters into its own hands.,, Some fishermen see this lawsuit as another nail in the coffin for California’s Dungeness crab fishery. >click to read< 09:20

Cape Cod environmentalists plan to wreck their lobster Industry to save the whales

Scientists trying to convince New England lobstermen to invest in “ropeless fishing” to cut the risk current fishing methods pose to northern right whales, The Boston Globe reported. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution say ropeless fishing will allow lobstermen to continue in their livelihood, but without long ropes running from buoys on the ocean’s surface to lobster traps on the ocean floor.,,, Scientists warn if this technology is not pursued, the only other option to save the whales is government regulation of fishing seasons and areas, which would devastate the industry much more than ropeless fishing. >click to read< 09:07

Pro-Active – P.E.I. snow crab industry figuring out how to protect endangered whales

Fisheries experts are on a tight timeline to figure out changes to the snow crab fishery to protect endangered right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence before the 2018 seasons starts. The season opens in April — including 35 Island fishermen landing about $14 million dollars worth for the Island. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) wants feedback from fishing groups in the next two to three weeks. Industry and DFO officials met in Moncton Wednesday to discuss possible solutions. One of the ideas was starting fishing earlier so fishermen could possibly reach their quota before whales arrive. click here to read the story 19:17

Fishermen: ‘We want to be proactive’ – Making The Sea Safer For Whales

More than 30 times this year, the federal government has received reports of whales tangled in fishing gear along the West Coast. Sometimes the whales manage to wriggle free. Other times you see heart-rending pictures on the news or a rescue mission. The culprit often involves Dungeness crab pot lines. Now Oregon crabbers are working with marine scientists to make the seas safer for whales and to avoid a black mark on their brand.  Bob Eder has fished commercially out of Newport, Oregon for decades.  “Over 45 years of pulling crab pots—I think I’ve probably hauled in close to a million—I’ve never encountered an entangled whale,” he said.  ‘We want to be proactive’  click here to read the story 09:03

Temporary closure of a fishery can help whales and fishermen, biologist says

As right whale researchers shift their focus to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they welcome a decision by the federal government to close a snow crab fishery early after seven whales and a whale rescuer died. Sean Brillant, a senior conservation biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Federation based in Halifax, said he recently proposed a similar strategy to protect right whales that would restrict fishing during the summer in the Grand Manan Basin in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin on the Scotian Shelf. Brillant said said fishermen’s landings have reportedly declined in recent years, so the impact on them would be minimal. click here to read the story 08:13

Researchers probing marine mammal genitals, copulation with simulated sex!

Dara Orbach is probably one of very few people in the world who regularly gets sent dolphin vaginas in the mail. “The boxes don’t usually smell very good when they arrive,” says Orbach, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University and a research assistant at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. The marine mammologist has spent the last few years studying the genitals of whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions and seals to understand how they fit together during sex. It’s not an easy thing to do. First, she has to actually obtain the animals’ vaginas and penises. Orbach has a permit to receive the reproductive organs of marine mammals that have died of natural causes after a necropsy has taken place. It has taken her years, but at its peak, her collection included about 140 specimens. Second, she has to figure out how the penises and vaginas interact in real life when, in fact, they’re lying inert and disembodied on her laboratory table. click here to read this story 12:30

Photo of the Day: Splitting the Catch

Whales in some parts of the world have learned to follow the noise and activity of fishing boats in order to catch any herring near them. When the boats’ nets begin to close, the whales recognize what’s happening and take the opportunity to cut off any herring escaping the nets as they close. It’s sometimes a beneficial relationship for both the whales and the people fishing. Fishermen often locate killer whales and humpbacks to find the schools of herring that reside near them: Photographer Audun Rikardsen captured this photograph in the Arctic water off of Norway. His equipment includes the Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a 11-24mm f/4 lens at 11mm, 1/200 of a second, f/6.3, ISO 640. Read the rest here 21:29

Saving the whales – 19th-century hunting techniques now used to help, not kill humpbacks

To save whales tangled in netting and debris, rescuers take a page right out of the 1850s whale-hunting playbook. To catch and kill the animals, 19th-century whalers would harpoon the creatures, add a barrel to the line to slow and force them to surface. Then they’d lance captured whales and let them bleed out. Now, rescuers follow similar but nonviolent steps — tossing a hook to catch the debris on a whale, adding a buoy to slow it and using a knife rigged on a pole to cut away entangled fishing gear or other marine debris. Instead of a barrel of oil, their reward is watching the whale swim free. “We stole it from whalers in the 1850s,” said Ed Lyman, large whale entanglement response coordinator with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. “Here we are using their technique to actually save whales.” Continue reading the story here 09:58

Andrew Cuomo’s wind farm plan needs 280 square miles off LI

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambition to develop enough offshore wind energy by 2030 to power 750,000 homes will require 280 square miles of ocean starting 12 to 15 miles from the Long Island shore, state officials said. In a presentation to Long Island fishing groups in Setauket last week, state officials unveiled a map outlining a massive wind-study area south of Long Island that could result in three separate wind farms in the water over the next decade. One fisherman at the meeting noted the location of that proposed array largely was determined before the Setauket meeting last Tuesday. “Why are we having outreach after the site lease is already sold?” said Mike Fogal, a Jones Inlet commercial fisherman. Read the story here 13:39

Simple solution could save whales from fishing nets

The number of massive whales dangerously caught up in fishing gear could be reduced by three quarters if the industry would agree to use slightly weaker ropes. The calculations and recommendations have been published in the journal Conservation Biology, following a string of whale entanglements reported over June and July; from June, one humpback whale was inadvertently caught up off the British Columbia coast every week for six weeks. Read the rest here 10:49