Archive for Whales
www.independent.co.uk 16th January 2011
BP have signed an agreement with state-run Russian oil company Rosneft to begin exploration of the Kara Sea, north of Siberia. BP is, so far, responsible for the world’s worst off-shore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last April. Friends of the Earth, in response to the news of the deal, branded BP “environmental villain number one” and Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace have both promised to confront the new BP chief, Bob Dudley. The Kara Sea is one of the few untouched refuges left for a number of species including the Polar Bear, Beluga Whales, Halibut and Arctic Cod. BP has already got in trouble with conservationists over Russian drilling due to their constant seismic surveying, which WWF’s claims has caused harm to the only remaining 130 Western Grey Whales. Of this number, only 30 are female. Following the explosion on board the Deepwater Horizon rig in April 2010, Greenland was the first to ban BP from drilling in its Arctic waters. Evidently, the Russians aren’t quite so squeamish about environmental disasters.
www.telegraph.co.uk 10th November 2010
Quoted from source:
A study of whales in the Gulf of California over the past few years showed blisters and other symptoms typically associated with the skin damage that humans suffer from exposure to the ultraviolet radiation. Whales would be particularly vulnerable to sunburn in part because they need to spend extended periods of time on the ocean’s surface to breathe, socialise, and feed their young. Without fur or feathers to protect their skin, they are effectively sunbathing naked. Laura Martinez-Levasseur, the study’s lead author, said: “Humans can put on clothes or sunglasses – whales can’t.” Ms Martinez-Levasseur, who works at Zoological Society of London, spent three years studying whales in the Gulf of California. Photographs were taken of the whales to chart any visible damage, and small samples – taken with a crossbow-fired dart – were collected to examine the state of their skin cells. Her study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, seemed to confirm suspicions first raised by one of her whale-watching colleagues: The mammals were showing lesions associated with sun damage, and many of their skin samples revealed patterns of dead cells associated with exposure to UV radiation. As with humans, the lighter-skinned whales seemed to have the most difficulty dealing with the sun. Blue whales had more severe skin damage than their darker-skinned counterparts, fin whales and sperm whales, even though the latter spend bigger chunks of time at the surface. So far, there were no indications of skin cancer among the whales studied, although Ms Martinez-Levasseur, who is also a PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London, noted that only tiny samples were taken.
www.telegraph.co.uk 8th November 2010
33 whales have been found beached off Rutland Island near Burtonport in County Donegal, Ireland on Saturday. The pod had been spotted in late October off the Inner Hebrides and were in danger of grounding themselves due to bad weather, said Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. Also in the region at that time was the Royal Navy and several campaigners have voiced their concerns that military sonars may have caused the whales to beach themselves. However, a Royal Navy spokesperson has claimed that the nearest navy vessel to South Uist, where the whales were spotted in October, was 50 miles away and at that distance, would have no effect on the mammals navigational abilities. Navies around the world have previously insisted that their sonars do not affect marine creatures but in America, a judge ordered the US Navy not to use mid-frequency sonar between 2007 and 2009 for fear of damaging marine life. The beaching off Rutland Island is one of the largest in recent history. In the 1960s, around 60 whales died by beaching off the west coast of Kerry. In 2001, 35-40 more suffocated in the same area. The most recent event is currently being investigated by a team from Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology.