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

Dolphin Mass Deaths In The Gulf Of Mexico

The BP oil spill, the largest ever oil spill on open water to date, contributed significantly to the historically high number of dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico, says a two-year scientific study released July 19. A variety of other environmental factors contributed.
A research team of biologists from several Gulf of Mexico institutions and the University of Central Florida in Orlando published their findings in the journal PLoS ONE.”

Continue reading @Planetsave...

So You Want to Free Willy, Too

Written by Nate Green

After watching Ric O’Barry in The Cove, it’s hard not to want to free any dolphin you come across in captivity. O’Barry has been at the forefront of dolphin rescue since the ‘70’s, after watching Kathy, one of the five dolphins who played Flipper, commit suicide in his arms. O’Barry is now working to free the largest member of the dolphin family: the orca. Along with a former SeaWorld trainer, two other marine mammal experts, and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), O’Barry is listed as a “near friend” of Tilikum and Katina from SeaWorld Orlando; and Corky, Kasatka, and Ulises from SeaWorld San Diego. The five orcas are named as plaintiffs in PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld. Tilikum is the orca that grabbed and killed his trainer in 2010.


PETA is asserting that the whales are, in effect, involuntary servants: held in captivity, ripped from their families in the wild, subject to sperm collection and artificial insemination, and forced to perform; all for SeaWorld’s profit. PETA is arguing that this is illegal… under the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1864. PETA claims this is the first suit of its kind: seeking to apply constitutional rights to animals. Continue reading

IUCN Press release: Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

For more information, review copies or to set up interviews, please contact: Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, t +41 22 999 0346, m +41 76 505 33 78, ewa.magiera@iucn.org

For immediate release: September 5, 2011

Whales & dolphins need more protected areas

Background: A new book, Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is released, calling for accelerated efforts to conserve marine mammals by protecting a greater area of the ocean. Currently only 1.3% of the ocean is protected but many new Marine Protected Areas are being created. Erich Hoyt, the book’s author and IUCN’s cetacean specialist, examines current and future developments in ocean protection. The book is a key resource for cetacean scientists and managers of Marine Protected Areas. Since most of these areas promote whale and dolphin watching and marine ecotourism, the book is also useful for finding some of the best places to spot the 87 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in 125 countries and territories around the world. The book is published by Earthscan / Taylor & Francis and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. Continue reading

Review: MPAs for Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises

MarineBio’s director of all things cetacean and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s Senior Research Fellow and Global Critical Habitat/ Marine Protected Area Programme Leader, Erich Hoyt, has just published the fully expanded and updated 2nd edition of his book on marine protected areas (MPAs) and cetacean habitats.

For your FREE copy, join MarineBio with a minimum $100 donation. If you would also like a small (23.41 x 33.11 inches) or large (32.7 x 45.4 inches) map of cetacean MPAs around the world (also created by Erich) to go with the book, we ask that you donate a minimum of $150. Please add $25 for postage for orders outside the US. Continue reading

A FALL FROM FREEDOM

A powerful and factual documentary on the often emotional issue of keeping cetaceans (whales & dolphins) in captivity.

A FALL FROM FREEDOM is the first film to expose the long and sordid history of the captive whale and dolphin business; a history that continues to this day. The illegal capture and transport of killer whales, the thousands of dolphins that are killed in order to provide marine parks and aquariums with replacement animals, and the ability of these facilities to miseducate the public about these animals.

These, and many other issues, are covered in graphic detail in this 80 minute film.

Visit the A FALL FROM FREEDOM website @ http://afallfromfreedom.org for more information about the film including screenings, interviews and how to get a copy.

Impact of the Gulf tragedy on marine life?

I can’t tear myself away from the coverage of the Gulf oil tragedy. It seems the solution to stopping the flow is days if not weeks away. I wonder why oil tankers aren’t being used to contain the oil from the spill?

The loss of human lives was tragic. The impact on  human lives will be tragic. What will be the impact on marine life?  This couldn’t have happened at a worse time for some of the most fragile, and important, ecosystems and breeding grounds for Gulf species that are in the midst of spawning season. It’s spring in the Gulf. Spawning, migrating, incubating, hatching. It’s all happening now. I keep hearing about how this is going to impact seafood production for a decade. OK. Well, this is going to impact the very survival of some species forever. Including Homo sapiens.

Continue reading

Keep wild animals wild – they’re not circus freaks

The death of Dawn Brancheau in Orlando was tragic and my heart goes out to her family and friends. I understand it was her dream since the first time she visited SeaWorld to train marine mammals and I imagine she loved what she did. We get dozens of emails from our MarineBio members and other readers who talk about their dreams of becoming marine mammal trainers. They love whales and dolphins. I do too. I love them so much I’m willing to give up seeing them up close in an aquarium. Because I know they are happiest in the wild where they belong. When they’re contained in an unnatural environment they cannot follow their inborn instincts to swim long distances, hunt for prey, travel in pods and enjoy a healthy social life with their families in the wild.

orca or killer whales, Orcinus orca

Continue reading

A Message from Erich Hoyt

A Message from Erich Hoyt on Defending Antarctic Toothfish in the Ross Sea:

I am a whale researcher and conservationist, writes Erich Hoyt, Senior Research Fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and MarineBio’s Director of Marine Mammals. Recently I became very interested in toothfish in Antarctica. At up to 2.5 m long they can be the size of a porpoise or dolphin. Left alone, they live for up to 50 years; they don’t breed until they’re about 16 and not every year thereafter. But aside from some remarkably similar reproductive parameters how is this relevant to my interest in whales and dolphins? Continue reading

First high seas MPA in the Antarctic Region

The first high seas Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Antarctic region has been declared in an area south of the South Orkney Islands. The proposal was successfully pitched by the UK delegation to the meetings last week of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Tasmania. The South Orkneys MPA is situated in the northern Weddell Sea, east of the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula — a prime area for feeding humpback whales.

At just under 94,000 sq kms, the protection of the South Orkneys MPA is of a significant size. Overnight the global area of protected waters, with this announcement, increased by 4% according to Louisa Wood, from the IUCN Global Marine Programme. The global area of protected waters now stands at 0.92% of the world ocean — still far behind the land with as much as 12% protected, according to some estimates. Continue reading

A worldwide web for whales

icmmpaheader

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

1st Conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas

The first ever conference on Marine Mammal Protected Areas will be held on the island of Maui in Hawai’I from March 29 – April 3, 2009.

Conference on Marine Mammal Protected AreasThe theme is MPA Networks and Networking: Making Connections. The conference will bring together MPA managers, scientists, and educators from around the world to engage in sessions that will provide a forum for sharing information on approaches to marine mammal management and conservation as well as the design and management of MPA networks.

“Networks are a hot issue in marine habitat conservation,” said Erich Hoyt, MarineBio Director of Marine Mammals, WDCS MPA Campaign Head, and a member of the conference steering committee and co-chair of the programme committee. “We are beginning to realize that without networks of MPAs, we don’t stand a chance of conferring adequate protection to diverse species and habitats. Humpback whales, for example, breed in shallow subtropical waters and feed in cold temperate areas around productive upwellings and ocean fronts.

Protecting their habitats can mean a network extending over the waters of several countries. It will help greatly if all the managers of these MPAs can work together for conservation.”

The ICMMPA conference is being co-hosted by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA and the NMFS Office of International Affairs. Supporters and benefactors include the governments of Australia and Monaco, the US National Park Service, NOAA Marine Debris Program, International Whaling Commission, and WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Participants are already confirmed from more than 20 countries including: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Bangladesh, Sao Tome et Principe, Fiji, Micronesia (FSM), Samoa, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK and the USA. For more information, go to www.icmmpa.org.