Thursday, October 29, 2020

OCEANS's OCEAN section dives into ocean conservation, including activism to save whales, dolphins, turtles, and bluefin tuna. Find news about Sea Shepherd and efforts to stop the Taiji dolphin slaughter. Plus, learn how to help end keeping dolphins, whales, and other mammals captive in theme parks like SeaWorld.

Sea Shepherd Celebrates Humpback Homecoming

(SEA SHEPHERD/OCEAN CONSERVATION) This past week, a segment on "60 Minutes" covered the issue of anti-whaling and ocean conservation, specifically the growing numbers of humpback whales. The "return of the humpbacks" as the program calls it, is due to international anti-whaling laws as well as the efforts of conservationists. A feature of the segment was Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its founder, Captain Paul Watson. Watson has brought attention to Sea Shepherd as the star of Whale Wars on Animal Planet, in which he and his team track and interfere with illegal whale hunting. Sea Shepherd has had its share of successes when it comes to its whale defense campaigns, including Operation Zero Tolerance, the focus of season six of Whale Wars which will air in December. During Operation Zero Tolerance, the Sea Shepherd fleet defended the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in Antarctica and saved the lives of over 900 whales over the 2012-2013 whaling season. The next campaign over 2013-2014, entitled Operation Relentless will be Sea Shepherd's 10th Antarctic anti-whaling campaign. — Global Animal
Orcas, Killer Whales, PETA, SeaWorld, Whale Sanctuaries

Do Killer Whales Get Hot Flashes?

(WHALES/ANIMAL SCIENCE) SeaWorld, whaling, and now hot flashes and mood swings... What more must a killer whale endure?! It turns out killer whales also experience menopause. There are only two other species— humans and pilot whales—that live long enough after they stop reproducing. Scientists believe it's because of the whales' "unusual social structure" in which the offspring never leave their mothers. Like humans, female killer whales finish up their childbearing years in their 30's and 40's but can live until they're 90. Since the mothers who lead the killer whale family are no longer competing with their daughters to reproduce, they are now free to take care of their grandchildren. The sons do leave briefly for mating but always return home to mom. What's interesting is that research has shown an increase in adult sons' mortality rates the year after their mother dies. They believe this may be why the female killer whales evolved to have menopause—to improve the male offsprings' survival. Read below for more on these amazing animals and their family dynamic. — Global Animal

10 Mysterious Creatures Of The Deep Sea (GALLERY)

(OCEANS/WILDLIFE PICTURES) It's amazing what wondrous creatures emerge from the deep sea. On October 13, an 18-foot-long serpent-like oarfish washed up on the shore of a California beach, much to the surprise of the staff and children of the Catalina Island Marine Institute. Oarfish are rare creatures typically found in much deeper waters up to 3,000 feet below the surface. They can grow up to 56 feet in length, making them the world's largest bony fish. They earned their name due to appendages at the end of their pelvic spines that look like paddles, which are used to help them balance and swim upright. Oarfish are found in all temperate to tropical waters, but are rarely seen, dead or alive. Little is known about their population and behavior. Read on to learn more about the oarfish and check out more amazing creatures of the deep sea in this awesome photo gallery. — Global Animal

The loggerhead sea turtle is just one of the animals benefiting from military assistance. Photo Credit: National Marine Life Center

Government Shutdown Shuns Sea Turtles

(OCEANS/SEA TURTLES) FLORIDA — Florida’s endangered sea turtle populations are starting to find out the recent government shutdown isn’t species specific. Among the number of important federal initiates dwindling at the hands of the United States Government, two of Florida’s national parks are on the verge of closing. The Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park are at the forefront of sea turtle conservation in the state and generate an abundance of tourism. Continue reading to learn exactly how much the shutdown harms the threatened species. — Global Animal

Sea Turtle Populations Plummet Due To Plastic Pollution

(OCEANS/ANIMAL SCIENCE) Scientists have found that 50 percent of all sea turtles are ingesting plastic, and this number is only increasing as plastic pollution continues to surge. "These patches are not going away," says lead author Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer at the University of New South Wales. "The garbage patches will stay there for at least the next thousand years." Studies show this problem is not only prominent in heavily populated areas like New York City, but also in places like Brazil. Continue reading for more information on how plastic waste is becoming a global issue, and consider these tips on reducing your own plastic consumption. — Global Animal
Whales still get hit despite ship speed regulations and observation systems. Photo Credit: Discovery

Ear Wax Tells Whale’s Tale

(WILDLIFE/ANIMAL SCIENCE) The endangered blue whale's ear wax could be the key to saving the beloved species. Scientists from Texas have analyzed a 10-foot-long earplug retrieved from a blue whale who passed away due to a collision with a ship off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 2007. Like a tree's rings, the ear wax documents the changing levels of hormones within the creature as well as exterior pollutants. It provides researchers with a window into the chemical content of the ocean, hopefully revealing the cause behind the the vast decline of several marine species. With more research, ear wax investigation has the potential to offer substantial hope for whales by unearthing the effects humans have on marine life. Issues like heavy ship traffic and human noise has potentially caused an increase in whale stress levels. Read on to learn the details behind this groundbreaking discovery. — Global Animal

PETA Exposes Seafood Company’s Cruelty

(OCEANS/ANIMAL ABUSE) PETA recently released a video displaying brutal acts against crabs and lobsters conducted by a Maine seafood plant. The video shows the torture of the animals, including pulling apart the live lobsters' bodies. PETA claims the actions of the seafood company, Linda Bean's Maine Lobster, violates the state's cruelty to animals statute. A recent study at Queens's University Belfast suggests these animals do indeed feel pain and PETA is calling for the company to adopt more humane methods of killing them. Read the full article below for more on the video and PETA's stance on the company's operations. — Global Animal

Whale Spotting? There’s An App For That!

(OCEANS/ANIMAL SCIENCE) While iPhone users are going crazy over the new iOS 7 update, a new app may do wonders for the thousands of whales left in the oceans. The app, Whale Spotter, allows marine scientists, sailors, and whale enthusiasts to plot whale locations on a digital map, in order to track migratory patterns. Scientists hope the app will help ships avoid whales, in turn keeping both animal and man safe. Continue reading below to find out what the app means for the future of whales. — Global Animal

Blue-whales are the world's largest known animals. Photo Credit: Erik Olson, New York Times

Sea Shepherd Cracks Down On Cruel Sport

(ANIMAL ACTIVISM/OCEAN CONSERVATION) Since 1983, the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has been fighting to stop whale and dolphin Grind hunting in the Faroe Islands—also referred to as the Taiji of the North—and now they're ready for their next battle with their summer launch of "Operation GrindStop 2014." For those unfamiliar with the term, a Grind is when small fishing boats surround a pod of whales or dolphins and drive them into the bay. The pod is then beached and left defenseless while men savagely plunge blades into the whales and dolphins until they die. This cruel "sport" has been around since 1584 but not because it's done for profit, or even to feed a starving community—the Faroe Islanders have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Grind hunting seems to persist today simply because it's considered "traditional Viking fun." Read below for more on Operation GrindStop and see how you can help Sea Shepherd stop these brutal massacres. — Global Animal

Whale Woes: Iceland Targets Endangered Whales

(WHALES/ENDANGERED SPECIES) Iceland has started to hunt fin whales once again with the summer quota allowing for the deaths of up to 184 whales. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed the species as endangered and animal rights activists around the globe are not happy with Iceland's decision. Supporters argue that whaling is part of Iceland's culture. However, most of the meat will be exported to Japan and according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), it is mostly consumed by tourists in Iceland. Read on for more details on Iceland's whaling debate. — Global Animal

Will Humpback Whales Stay Protected?

(WHALES/ENDANGERED SPECIES) The Northern Pacific humpback whales may no longer be an endangered species. The great news is the humpback whale population has jumped from 1,400 to 21,000 since it was classified as endangered in 1970. The potentially bad news is because of this recovery, the federal government is now seriously considering taking the animals off of the endangered species list thanks to a petition created by a group of Hawaiian fishermen who explain they're not looking to hunt the whales, but instead want to maintain a balance with other species added to the list. However, some environmental groups believe delisting the whales could leave the animals more vulnerable to other hazards like oil drilling, mining, and tourism since these commercial activities will no longer require the stringent reviews mandated by the endangered species list. Read on to learn more about the petition seeking to delist humpback whales and share your thoughts in the comments section below. — Global Animal

Hundreds Of Whales & Dolphins May Be Killed! Is The Military Going Too Far?

(OCEANS/ANIMAL WELFARE) Is the killing of hundreds of whales and dolphins ever acceptable? The Navy says they may be doing just that while testing explosives underwater. Before even applying for federal permits to do so, the military conducted an environmental impact study that determined the explosions would cause most of the marine mammals' deaths; though some whales and dolphins may perish from the sonar testing or even being hit by ships. Military officials say this is necessary because sailors need to test and train in real-life conditions in order to develop “the critical skills they need or ensure the new technologies can be operated effectively.” This impending massacre will reportedly take place over the next five years in waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California, and Hawaii. However, some wildlife protection advocates say the navy is underestimating the damage these explosions will cause; believing it will disrupt the whales’ feeding and movement habits, and possibly even lead to death for the species. It’s understandable that our military needs to be prepared, but at what expense? Read below for more on this controversial testing and tell us what you think in the comments below. Is the sacrifice of all of these marine mammals’ lives worth it? – Global Animal

Stock Car Driver Races To Save Dolphins

(OCEANS/OCEAN CONSERVATION) Activist and race car driver, Leilani Münter, is adding fuel to a Tempe, Arizona event in support of Japan Dolphins Day. The event, which is set to correspond with the beginning of Japan’s annual dolphin drive hunt, commences on Friday. Münter joins a dedicated group of activists that hope to educate the world on the horrors of Japan’s hunts. Continue reading below to find out how Münter has aided dolphins in the past, and learn what’s in store for the event in Arizona. — Global Animal

Another Disturbing Death At SeaWorld

(OCEANS/SEAWORLD) TEXAS — SeaWorld San Antonio is mourning the loss of a 4-year-old beluga whale named Bella who died on Sunday due to a "brief illness." Being the marine park's 13th beluga whale death since 1995, and seeing as though other SeaWorld parks have not recorded nearly as many beluga deaths, researchers believe the cause of death could be the result of warm and humid weather conditions. Read on for more details on the sad loss and share your thoughts in the comments below. — Global Animal