The World’s Rarest Whales

Spade-toothed Beaked Whales, Mesoplodon traversii

The appearance of the world’s rarest whales has been recorded for the first time after a mother and her calf washed up on beach in New Zealand in 2010. Spade-toothed beaked whales (Mesoplodon traversii [IUCN]), aka Bahamondi’s or Traver’s beaked whales, are so rare that they have yet to be seen alive and only recently have scientists confirmed that a five-meter specimen found alongside its male offspring two years ago belonged to the rarest species of whales. Continue reading

Reef Life of the Andaman

The following outstanding 2 hour video shows the amazing biodiversity of the marine life in the Andaman Sea (in the northeast Indian Ocean). Produced by Nick Hope at Bubble Vision, he again amazes us while introducing us to many rarely seen marine species the way they should be met, in their home under the sea.


It’s turtle time!

Sea turtles have been making it to the top of the headlines recently, all positive for a change and I thought I would use this blog to draw attention to this. Additionally, I feel it’s always nice to give some attention to the turtles.

So the first piece of news, the secrets of the sea turtle migration have been uncovered. It turns out that the reproduction migration (females returning to their nesting beaches) is not the longest migration that sea turtles carry out. It has been found from the compilation of long term capture programs that the migration of immature turtles, termed “developmental migration”, is longer than the reproductive migration. Also this migration is only carried out once in their life time rather than every few years. On the migration topic as well, a study was carried out to determine the migration of juvenile leatherback sea turtles. However, due to the size and the weight of the juveniles it is impossible to attach a satellite tag to their shells without them sinking. So instead of following the hatchlings the scientists followed the currents. The “lost years” of a turtle’s life, the age between hatching and returning to foraging grounds can be anywhere between 3 to 5 years after they hatch. These years are the least understood part of a turtle’s life. Knowing more about where the turtles swim before they reach adulthood could be critical in protecting the species. Continue reading

iPhone fish identification app

iPhone fish identification applicationThe Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has released a free iPhone app, for the identification of Pacific fish species. The species covered spans from Baja California to Ecuador, including the Galapagos.

The app evolved from the book, “Fishes of the Tropical Eastern Pacific” published in 1994. However, the app covers over 1,300 species allowing the identification of 10% of the world’s tropical fish species whereas the book only has 700. The app is free on iTunes: here and is potentially one of three apps according to iTunes descriptions.

Having downloaded and played around with this app it is very easy to use. It has a clear lay out containing a notebook section where you can compile your own lists and each page comes with a glossary section for any words used that aren’t understood. When you click on one fish you will also see other members of the family before it goes directly to the profile page, allowing for a perfect match. I like the feature of being able to find out the IUCN red list status which is available on each profile page. A useful little app that I would recommend to anyone needing to identify any pacific fish species!

Tragedy of the Commons

Today I’m going to take you on a voyage to some place so deep, so dark, so unexplored that we know less about it than we know about the dark side of the moon. It’s a place of myth and legend. It’s a place marked on ancient maps as “here be monsters.” It is a place where each new voyage of exploration brings back new discoveries of creatures so wondrous and strange that our forefathers would have considered them monstrous indeed. Instead, they just make me green with envy that my colleague from IUCN was able to go on this journey to the south of Madagascar seamounts to actually take photographs and to see these wondrous creatures of the deep. Continue reading

Healthy Oceans vs Climate Change

International coalition advances marine conservation as part of the solution to climate change

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A large international coalition today urged the United States to support marine conservation options that will help mitigate climate change.

The ‘Blue Climate Coalition,’ comprised of sixty-six conservation groups and interests and over 150 marine scientists and professionals, from 33 countries, issued communications today addressed to President Obama and the United States Senate.

MangrovesTogether, the coalition letters request the option for marine conservation solutions to climate change to be considered in national climate change legislation and international climate change treaties, and support for marine science research that further explores this concept. Continue reading

Indonesia protects blue whale hotspot…

Great news from MarineBio’s Director of Marine Mammals, Erich Hoyt:

Lembeh Strait, IndonesiaThe Indonesian Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi has announced the designation of the Savu Sea National Marine Park — a blue whale hotspot that becomes the 15th largest MPA in the world. The announcement came at the World Ocean Conference in Manado, Indonesia, in May 2009. Continue reading

A worldwide web for whales

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WDCS Press Communication

A worldwide web for whales: The special places where whales and dolphins live and the people who know them.

Maui, Hawaii, 3rd April 2009: On the final day of the first International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas, experts addressed future challenges for the management of existing and the establishment of new marine protected area networks. The more than 200 marine mammal scientists, MPA managers and other experts from 40 countries agreed that this gathering on the shores of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was a valuable experience that needs to carry on by building an enduring network.

While humpback whales, often in sight of conference delegates, cavorted offshore on their mating grounds, a key recommendation from the conference came out of a workshop convened by WDCS Research Fellow Erich Hoyt:

“A worldwide effort must be made urgently to identify and define whale and dolphin critical habitats and hot spots,” said Hoyt. “Then we need to map this information with other species and ecogeographic data to create MPA networks in national waters and on the high seas. It is like creating a sort of worldwide web for whales and dolphins but connecting not just the animals, but the special places where they live, and the people there too.”

Conference delegates will bring these and other recommendations to the upcoming meeting of the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 2) in Washington DC, in late May, and they will also form part of the work plan for the IUCN WCPA High Seas MPA Task Force.

“Probably less than 1 percent of the world’s marine mammal critical habitat has been identified much less protected,” added Hoyt. “We have discussed strategies for cost-effective measures to attack this huge workload with surveys and other studies. Clearly the emphasis will need to be on rare and endangered species, but we also need to protect healthy populations so that they don’t join the endangered ranks.”

In his conference keynote, Hoyt praised the fine recent record in the high level protection in the Pacific where 10 of the world’s largest 15 MPAs are located, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, in the Hawaiian Islands, at 362,000 sq km, the largest highly protected area in the world. But he reported that approximately 40% of the 300 existing marine mammal MPAs are clearly too small and even a higher percentage offer no real protection. MPAs in Europe, East Asia, West Africa and the Middle East were particularly small and ineffective even for protecting coastal dolphin habitat, much less that of large whale species.

“Networks will solve some of the problems of individual small size if we are clever about what we protect, but much better zoned and well-managed protection is clearly needed.”

WDCS is a sponsor of the International Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas. WDCS was represented with five experts, two of them Members of the Steering committee and Erich Hoyt as co-chair of the programme committee. Presentations and posters included the announcement of the South American River Dolphin Protected Area Network (SARDPAN), cetacean habitat surveys of the Pacific Islands region and Patagonia, Argentina, an introduction to the proposed MPA in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, and the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary, in Australia.

Video clips from an interview conducted by the ICMMPA press team with Erich Hoyt are available on the conference website for download http://www.icmmpa.org/?page_id=516

Graphs about MPAs, as well as “Zoning”, a management approach within MPAs, and high quality images of whales and dolphins can be provided upon request.

For further information please contact:

Erich Hoyt, WDCS Senior Research Fellow, MPA Programme Lead, on site at the ICMMPA in Hawaii; T. + 44 7929 879 256, E-Mail. erich.hoyt@mac.com

Press contact: Nicolas Entrup, WDCS Continental Europe,  T. + 49 171 1423 117, E-Mail: Nicolas.entrup@wdcs.org