This Week in Whales
Posted August 18, 2011
Interesting news in the world of whales this week (or close to it):
- More evidence that whales are cool: Sperm whale grandmas take care of the kiddies while moms feed. Sperm whales love to eat deep-dwelling squid, which leads them to dive to depths of hundreds or thousands of feet for up to 40 minutes when feeding. This could cause a problem for nursing mothers as their calves cannot dive as deep or for as long a period. Fortunately, grandmas and aunts beyond breeding age come to the rescue by caring for multiple young sperm whales at or near the surface while nursing mothers fulfill their calamari cravings.
- Dolphins off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, are being tested this month for exposure to oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Under the Oil Spill Act of 1990, BP and other companies found responsible for last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have to pay for mitigating the harmful effects of the oil spill and compensate the public for losses that cannot be mitigated. Numerous studies are underway to determine what BP and others will have to pay. This dolphin study is one such project, which may shed light on whether the spill contributed to the strandings of 85 premature, stillborn or neonatal bottlenose dolphins earlier this year.
- Last week Pierce Brosnan asked people to turn up the pressure on the Obama Administration to impose tough trade sanctions on Iceland for its illegal slaughter of whales. This week, Brosnan followed it up with a stirring video, speaking out against Iceland’s illegal whaling and calling on others to join the fight
- Unfortunately, the gray whale that gave visitors to the Klamath River in Northern California the chance for an up close encounter died on Tuesday. A necropsy will be performed to determine the immediate cause of death, but the more interesting question is why the whale and her calf left the ocean in the first place. Were they fleeing killer whales? Were they spooked by some manmade sound, like sonar? It is unclear what happened to her calf. It was last seen outside of the mouth of the river three weeks ago, so may have survived.
Meanwhile, this week in Wales…
Worlds colliding this week as whales were spotted off the coast of Wales. Sea Watch Foundation, a marine environmental research charity that focuses on whale and dolphin conservation in the seas around Britain and Ireland recently held its 10th National Whale and Dolphin Watch, counting marine mammals off of the islands’ coasts. This year, 158 dolphins and whales were spotted off the coast of Wales.
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