20 August 2008

Whale Calf Rescue, Sydney, Pt. II

An abundance of vessels and a new abundance of whales in the "least concern" category set the scene in this inter-species competition. The infant 'Moby Dick' seeks protection in the sheltered bay of the Sydney Basin.

Speculation has it, that it was "abandoned". As the bay of Pittwater is synonymous with yacht racing the Humpback calf t
urns into a 5 tonne 'problem'. Coaxed out into the deep Pacific, it would have been unclear whether the 5 m mammal was the responsibility of Zoo vets, NSW Parks and Wildlife Service, international agencies or even marine experts. The lone infant returned for the sheltered bay, seeking out what is most plentiful there, namely boats. Voices say that it would "have to be put down", "destroyed" or "euthanized".

Options of feeding it krill outside of captivity are dismissed, despite the 1997 baby whale rescue in the U.S."...The whale was hand-reared back to health before being released into the wild 14 months later. Our veterinarians and our animal care teams immediately went to work to try and save the animal" Such a rescue of a fellow mammal infant would only t
ake a fraction of the budget of dog food or imported seafoods.

Human caused stressors to whales:

Share the habitat!
  • Effectively protect these highly migratory marine mammals in their habitat.
  • Impose (seasonal) speed restrictions in areas frequented by whales and other protected fauna.
  • Create a protected crucial habitat as an Area to be Avoided (ATBA).
  • Divert some of the attention and budget bestowed on pets to unique marine mammal protection.
  • Reconsider mining and dredging Megaprojects on the coastline

Humpback whale calf lost in Sydney's buzz, Pt I
Desalination, a Megaproject or Water Conservation and Whales

-Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Moby-Dick
- "Vessel Collisions with Whales: The Probability of Lethal Injury Based on Vessel Speed," (PDF) by Ms. Vanderlaan and Dr. Taggart,MARINE MAMMAL SCIENCE, 23(1): 144–156 (January 2007), C# 2006 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy, DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2006.00098.x
- IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Humpback whale, Brehm, Alfred, Brehms Thierleben, via Zeno
2."The Large Fish eating the Little ones", Bruegel d. Ä., Pieter, via Zeno

Updates 210808
- Now the military has been approached about towing it out to sea again. Imagine the smelly giant carcass in the middle of a yachting bay! abc 210808
- One person was attempting to feed the whale, but authorities stepped in.
- Event hungry people are moving in on the starving whale, keeping authorities busy to enforce the required exclusion zone, Manly Daily 210808
- Image:" The baby whale with wounds on its back thought to be from swimming under the yachts" SMH Blog 210808
- Meetings are on: tow out 'with the sharks' again or euthanise. Feeding option, a 'can't do'. SMH 210808
- A carcass in the Pitwater Bay would be smelly, an obstacle for yachts and would attract sharks.
- The death penalty has been pronounced by the the National Park and Wildlife Service: ".. the calf would be killed by lethal injection overnight or in the morning... Aboriginal "whale whisperer" Bunna Lawrie, who spent time with the whale this afternoon, patting the calf and singing to it..He heard me singing and came over. I looked at him and he was full of life. He had a few scratches and cuts on him and I was a bit worried about his eyes...All we have to do is get it out to sea, nurse it out there and guard and wait for pod of whales. Let the whales figure out if they can accept it. A mother may think it can feed two." SMH 210808

Update 220808:
- Euthanasia for the lost whale calf. A cost-effective and widely used chemical club on Australian wildlife. New experts will seek the truth in the entrails of the mammal and the remaining bones will serve “research” (sounds familiar!). So much for the human wildlife interface. via SMH 220808

MORE Starving Whales:
- Another starving humpback whale is in the overfished Baltic sea. It " is getting critical ... the whale is having trouble nourishing itself." Greenpeace " is now prepared to intervene to stop the whale from beaching itself." Spiegel 200808

Update 110908:
An application has been lodged for a licence to explore for gas in a 6,000 kilometre zone between Sydney's and Port Stephens, north of Newcastle. Seismic tests could interfere with whale migration. In Alaska the whale watching industry it taking mining operators to court. Gas exploration on the coastline has the potential to devastate the beaches and ruin the whale habitat. abc 110908

Update 180908
- "The International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) says undersea noise blocks animals' communication and disrupts feeding. Levels of noise in the world's oceans are causing serious problems for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. Humanity is literally drowning out marine mammals" BBC 150908

Update 111008
- Speed limits for large commercial ships travelling coastal waters populated by whales migrating have been applied by the U.S. government.Ships must now go below 10 knots in specified coastal regions. 091008 The NEW YORK TIMES

Update 171008
Autopsy results: The male calf "was suffering from acute pneumonia, serious body and pancreas emaciation, acute intestinal erosion and ulcers in the stomach and there were a number of infected shark bites as well" abc 171008 But why did he get so ill in the ocean?

Update 211008
"NOAA officials today issued a regulation that will implement new measures to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales. The regulation will, for the first time, require large ships to reduce speeds to ten knots in areas where the whales feed and reproduce, as well as along migratory routes in between. The goal of the regulation is to reduce the risk of ship collision with the whales." But it would also lessen the possibility of separating the mother and calf in busy traffic! More on
ship strike noaa news 211008

Update 061208
More on disruptive noise in the oceans for marine mammals:
"Ocean Noise: Turn it Down", pdf
Noise from vessels, increased seismic surveys for oil and gas, off-shore construction and recreation, and a new generation of military sonars can interfere with whales. "The United Nations Environment Programme's Convention on Migratory Species conference in Rome, are urging governments and industry to adopt quieter engines for ships, tighter rules on the use of seismic surveys, and new, less intrusive sonar technologies by navies...Ship noise in the Pacific Ocean has doubled every decade over the past 40 years and the global shipping fleet is expected to double in size by 2025, after doubling between 1965 and 2003.There is now evidence linking loud underwater noises with some major strandings of marine mammals.
By 2050 the chemistry of seawater could increase in acidity by 0.3 pH units... this change in ocean acidity would allow sounds to travel up to 70 percent farther underwater." Environmental News Service 031208

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