The news is bleak for North Atlantic right whales, a critically endangered species with only around 400 left. After a year which saw 18 known deaths (most of which are due to getting tangled up in fishing gear), there have been no new calves sighted this year, worsening an already downward trend in births. That kind of math doesn’t bode well for the future of this species.
The Boston Globe has a longer article on this if you’re interested.
Check out this short but fascinating video of sperm whales interacting with free divers. What I found interesting was the description of how this interaction is different than when the encounter scuba divers, also the insight into their brain structure and size. I love whales!
The Sea Shepherd group has just received the money they need (from the Dutch Postcode Lottery), over eight million Euros, to pay for the design and construction of their ‘dream ship’ to patrol the Southern Ocean in an attempt to curtail illegal fishing. Very cool! Note the image here is just conceptual though. If you’ve ever watched Whale Wars, especially the latest Season 6, you’d know that they’re pushing some heavily-used second-hand equipment to, and past, the limit, in their efforts to stop Japan’s illegal whale hunt, and also illegal fishing of toothfish. Being able to build a ship that is purpose-designed for the harsh Southern Ocean conditions, and tailored towards their specific needs (launching RHIBs and helicopters in rough seas), is a huge boon to that organization. Congratulations, Sea Shepherds…and keep up the good work!
The International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s whaling program in the Antarctic is not for scientific purposes, and has revoked all permits previously given for that. Japan has stated that they will abide by the ruling, though I remain skeptical that this means the whaling ships will not return to the southern seas next winter. But, it’s a great step in increasing protection for whales worldwide. Thanks, Australia, for standing up to Japan’s illegal actions and helping to bring this case to court! Also thanks to Sea Shepherd for minimizing Japan’s effectiveness in whaling while this court case dragged out.
We’re probably all tired of hearing ‘there’s an app for that’, but it’s just too cool in this case…there’s an iPad app to help ship captains avoid whales in some shipping routes. Ship/whale collisions are a big deal for the whales, especially endangered Right Whales (not such a big deal for the ships). This app only covers areas close to shore where detection buoys have been set up, but still, it’s a start, and a cool one at that.