August 28th, 2014. Kyodo – Japan plans to declare its intention to continue “research whaling” during a general meeting of the International Whaling Commission to be held in Slovenia in mid-September, government sources said Wednesday.

Tokyo is expected to convey its desire to resume its scientific whaling program in the Antarctic despite an order by the International Court of Justice in March to halt the activity, a move that is likely to draw flak from antiwhaling IWC member countries. Read More…

The sperm whale skeleton could be ready for display by the end of the year. Courtesy of Shamsun Nahar Sherin

The sperm whale skeleton could be ready for display by the end of the year. Courtesy of Shamsun Nahar Sherin

August 27th, 2014 (Martin Croucher). FUJAIRAH – It is now two years since a sperm whale washed up on a Fujairah beach, and one of the most unpleasant waiting games continues.

The unusual sight of a 13-metre whale washed up in an area where it would not normally be seen was a public spectacle for almost a week in May 2012.

The plan was to give its carcass time to decompose, a process that should only take about a year, and then it could go on public display in Fujairah. However, two years down the line, it is still not ready.

The carcass was buried in a dry patch of land in Fujairah to aid its decomposition. When only its bones remained, they would have been dug out and put on display.

But last month officials from Fujairah Municipality took spades to the area of land where the whale was buried and found that a good portion of its body had still not decomposed.

“We dug it up a little about a month ago, but it still needs some time,” said Mohammed Al Afkham, the Director General of Fujairah Municipality. “We are keeping it under observation.”

The Environment Society of Oman has categorised three species of baleen whale and a species of sperm whale that are common in Omani waters.

But it is rare for a sperm whale to swim in to the Arabian Gulf.

Burying whales for a time is a common way of stripping their skeleton, and normally takes only a year if it is laid in dry earth, close to the sea. However, there is a risk that the entire carcass can rot, in which case the bones will not be usable.

Another way is to do it by hand, but Fujairah officials at the time discovered the whale had already been dead for 20 days at sea, and to do it manually would have posed a health risk.

It is not clear how the animal died, although marine experts at the time speculated it might have been upon contact with an oil spill.

Mr Al Afkham said he was hoping to put the skeleton on display at a marine exhibit in the emirate.

“It’s something that people should look at,” he said. “It’s a sperm whale, which is quite rare in this part of the world.”

The sperm whale can grow to 20 metres in length and can dive as deep as three kilometres. It lives primarily on squid but also on fish.

The clicking noise it produces is the loudest sound made by any mammal, and it can live as long as 70 years.

Mr Al Afkham said he expected the decomposition to finish soon.

“It will probably be ready by the end of the year, but we don’t want to take it out too early and break the bones,” he said. “We want to give it a bit of time to make sure all the meat drains out.”

The body of the animal has been buried in an empty, unmarked area near the coast.

“We have dug a very nice grave for it,” said Mr Al Afkham, who added that the public will not be told of its exact location.

“We don’t want to put a signpost for everyone to come. We don’t want someone to do something wrong there,” he said.

The director general said there was no chance of its location being lost: “We know exactly where it is. We’re taking good care of it, don’t worry.”

Ed Sibylline : just sordid !

Source

A submersible platform allows whale watchers into the water with whales.

A submersible platform allows whale watchers into the water with whales.

August 27th, 2014 (Eric Tlozek). Tour operators and whale conservationists are split over a Queensland Government trial that allows people to swim with whales.

Queensland has become the first Australian state to allow people to swim with humpback whales, softening otherwise strict regulations, as part of a three-year trial.

Operators in the southern Queensland town of Hervey Bay hope it will reverse falling visitor numbers at the whale-watching mecca. Read More…

Posted by: The ocean update | August 27, 2014

Dugong deaths on par with whales (Australia)

An estimated 1600 dugongs are killed in Territory waters each year. Picture : GBRMPA

An estimated 1600 dugongs are killed in Territory waters each year. Picture : GBRMPA

August 26th, 2014 (Megan Palin). A CONSERVATIONIST has labelled Australians “hypocrites” for condemning Japanese whalers while hundreds of dugongs are reportedly slaughtered in Top End waters every year.

Australian wildlife activist Colin Riddell said dugongs were at risk of extinction because federal laws allow traditional land owners to hunt and kill the animals without restriction. Read More…

Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2014

17th Irrawaddy dolphin dead in Trat (Thaïland)

Irrawaddy-dolphin-Trat-ThailandAugust 26th, 2014 (Jakkrit Waewklaihong). Coastal fishermen found this year’s 17th dead Irrawaddy dolphin near the beach in Trat province Monday, with initial investigation pointing to trawlers being responsible.

Local residents of Ban Saphan Hin village in Laem Klad sub-district of Muang Trat district found the carcass of the female Irrawaddy dolphin close to the beach. There were no visible wounds on the 1.75-metre animal, but it was sunburned. Read More…

Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2014

Navy-Funded Whale Tagging Study Begins (California, USA)

A blue whale surfaces during a whale-watching trip near Long Beach, Calif., on July 20. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A blue whale surfaces during a whale-watching trip near Long Beach, Calif., on July 20. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

August 26th, 2014. A Navy-funded study to continue documenting blue and fin whale distribution, occurrence and movement patterns along the U.S. West Coast and throughout the Eastern Pacific began July 31.

Oregon State University researchers will attempt to locate and attach up to 24 long-term satellite tracking tags to blue and fin whales off Southern California. Read More…

A group of whale watchers now have a whale of a tale. A Pirate’s Cove whale watching boat noticed an entangled whale in the Bay of Fundy on Thursday. A disentanglement crew was soon on its way. (Facebook)

A group of whale watchers now have a whale of a tale. A Pirate’s Cove whale watching boat noticed an entangled whale in the Bay of Fundy on Thursday. A disentanglement crew was soon on its way. (Facebook)

August 26th, 2014. A harrowing whale tale has a happy ending.

Last year, Foggy the humpback whale was rescued off the coast of Nova Scotia after becoming tangled in lines from abandoned lobster gear in the Bay of Fundy.

The “ghost” fishing gear was wrapped around the whale’s body, mouth and tail, and across its blowhole.

Local whale-watching crews were worried when Foggy wasn’t seen again after being freed from the gear last September. Read More…

Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2014

Japanese whaling patrol ship allowed to leave Russian port

Shonan-maru No.2.—Photo by AFP

Shonan-maru No.2.—Photo by AFP

August 26th, 2014. VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA – A Japanese whaling patrol ship seized by Russia in the Sea of Okhotsk more than a week ago left a port in Russia’s Far East on Tuesday, local border security officials said.

The 712-ton Shonan Maru No. 2 was given the green light to leave Magadan port after paying a fine of 30,000 rubles ($830) because of a legal offense, according to the Japanese Fisheries Agency. Read More…

Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2014

Dead baleen whale finally removed from Agat shores (Guam)

beached-whale-Guam2August 26th, 2014 (Allyson Chiu). Guam – It’s been nearly a month since a dead baleen whale washed ashore in Agat and residents have finally had enough.

The original plan of action was to leave the whale and “let nature take its course”. However, the smell and other safety concerns proved too much to handle for the residents living near the carcass. Department of Agriculture biologist Brent Tibbatts told KUAM News, “It was starting to smell pretty bad and there’s a possibility that dead whales can carry diseases that are transmissible to humans. Read More…

Posted by: The ocean update | August 26, 2014

US/NZ to track endangered whales in Rarotonga (Cook islands)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014. Three US scientists are this week deploying satellite tracking tags on Humpback whales off the Rarotonga coast to gain information vital to protecting the endangered mammals from extinction.

The scientists, University of Canterbury lecturer Travis Horton, Director of the Center for Cetacean Research and Conservation Nan Hauser, and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration’s Alex Zerbini, will deploy seven satellite monitoring tags between August 26 and September 6. Read More…

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