Monthly Archives: August 2017


Whale Collisions: The Little Known Danger That Ships Can Avoid

The risks of Whale Collisions increases with more marine traffic. But they can be avoided.

A Severely Injured Humpback Whale: Whale Collisions

A Severely Injured Humpback Whale (Photo: NOAA)

Whale Collisions have increased in recent years thereby putting pressure on an already threatened group of animals. For instance, collisions with oceangoing vessels killed more than 24 of the 67 right whales found dead between 1970 and 2007.

Many more collisions are not recorded or reported. This undermines efforts to help ensure that effective measures are put in place to reduce them.

Whale collisions are a serious incident because the impact causes severe injuries and even deaths to both the whales and sometimes the human beings using the vessel.

The most commonly affected whale species are humpback whales, blue whales, and the north Atlantic right

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Japanese Whale Hunting: The Facts And Impact On Whales

Japanese Whale Hunting remains a persistent and controversial matter that won’t go away.

The Nisshin Maru: Japanese Whale Hunting

The Nisshin Maru Whaling Vessel Returned With 333 Minke Whale Carcasses After A Hunt in March 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Kyodo)

Whales were excessively exploited during the height of the whaling industry back in the 18th and 19th centuries. So much so that many species like the right whale and the blue whale dropped almost to the point of extinction. The right whale for instance is still critically endangered with just about 500 of them alive today.

Though most whales are yet to return to their pre-whaling population, a quick intervention by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1986, saved many of them from disappearing completely.

At present, almost all whale species are recovering because of the IWC’s 1986 ban on commercial whaling. However, some countries still persist in the practice. They are Iceland, Norway, and Japan.

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Dead Right Whales Are Turning Up In The Gulf Of St. Lawrence

Despite being the most endangered whales on the planet, 10 dead Right Whales turned up so far in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Right Whale Breaching Water: Dead Right Whales found in Gulf of St. Lawrence

A Right Whale Breaching Water (Author: Michaël Catanzariti cc by-sa 3.0)

In a phenomenon that has left marine biologists and scientists completely baffled, another Right Whale was discovered already dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This brings the total number of dead whales to 10 within the space of a little over two months: June 7 to date.

Observers are describing this as unprecedented and “catastrophic” and that’s no exaggeration. That’s because this species is Critically Endangered.

In fact, these mammals are just a breath away from extinction.

There are currently just over 500 Right whales left on Earth!

 

The “unprecedented number of right whale deaths is very concerning,” Federal Department of Fisheries.

 

A Bit About Right Whales

Right whales are among the biggest whales on Earth. They are easy to distinguish from other very large whales. They have large, bulbous heads and are usually covered with rough patches of skin.

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Species Profile: The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is a truly cosmopolitan mammal known for frequent stranding.

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. (Courtesy: R.W. Baird/Cascadia Research Collective)

The Cuvier’s Beaked Whale is one of the smaller whale species and it’s widely distributed in most oceans and seas worldwide.

Though it’s so widely distributed, it prefers deep waters. As a result, not much is known about it except what researchers can gather by studying stranded individuals. Strangely, this species tends to strand more often than any of the other species of beaked whales.

Like other beaked whales, it has a cigar-shaped body and is often mistaken for other mesoplodont whales (a genus of toothed whales) at sea.

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Whales And The Dangers Of Marine Plastic

Marine Plastic has long been a menace to all sea life: and the situation is getting worse.

Cuvier's Whale And Plastic Trash

Cuvier’s Beaked Whales Are Dying Prematurely From Eating Marine Plastic. (Courtesy: Whaleopedia.org)

In another confirmation of the dangers of marine trash, scientists were shocked to discover a beached Cuvier’s Beaked Whale with more than four kg (9 lbs.) of ingested plastic bags.

The whale was found washed up on a beach on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Researchers went into the water to perform an on-the-spot autopsy only to find huge amounts of plastic coiled and tangled up in its stomach and intestines.

The plastic irritated its stomach and intestines and likely led to its death

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Species Profile: The Beluga Whale

The Beluga Whale is one intriguing creature! Though it’s one of the smallest whales, it stands out everywhere.

Closeup Of A Beluga Whale

Closeup Of A Beluga Whale Showing The Round “Melon” On Its Forehead. (Courtesy: premier.gov.ru cc by 4.0)

 

From the very first glance, the Beluga Whale stands out with its stark white color and friendly appearance.

This species is an Arctic and Sub-Arctic cetacean. Often called the white whale, the beluga shares the same family with the narwhal.

Its adaptation to life in the frigid waters of the Arctic means it has evolved several anatomical and physiological characteristics different from other cetaceans. For instance, its body has a high proportion of blubber, it lacks a dorsal fin, and has a stark all-white body color.

Also, its sharp sense of hearing and echolocation enables it move about under ice yet it can quickly find blowholes under the ice covering so it can breathe.

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