Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Whale Of A Week

Adopt a humpback August 2016

Tony Azevedo

Five-Time Olympian Tony Azevedo Calls On SeaWorld to Retire OrcasTony Azevedo chooses to spend his professional life in the water, but he knows that forcing orcas and other animals into a life of captivity at marine parks is just wrong. JOIN TONY IN HELPING ORCAS

"Remember the Alamo!" This phrase has long served as a battle cry for Texans and a warning to those who engage in merciless cruelty. However, apparently, the San Antonio Bowl Association doesn't remember it at all. The association continues to promote SeaWorld by partnering with the abusement park during its Alamo Bowl, advertising on its website, and even hosting team trips to SeaWorld—despite hearing from PETA that orcas are cruelly confined to barren concrete tanks and can become neurotic, aggressive, and self-destructive because of their confinement.
Since the release of the critically acclaimed documentary Blackfish, which exposed SeaWorld's record of animal mistreatment to the public, people around the world have united against SeaWorld. Dozens of corporate partners—including Hyundai Motor America, JetBlue, Mattel, Southwest Airlines, STA Travel, and Taco Bell—have severed ties with the park, and celebrities such as Jessica Biel, Aaron Paul, and One Direction's Harry Styles have spoken out against the sea circus. Three marine mammals recently died at the San Antonio park within three months, and seven high-ranking executives (including SeaWorld's CEO and its San Antonio park president) have left the embattled company. SeaWorld has since announced an end to its cruel and reckless orca-breeding program, but this does nothing for the orcas already languishing in SeaWorld's tiny tanks.
Please urge the San Antonio Bowl Association to stop supporting SeaWorld until the orcas are safely transitioned to seaside sanctuaries—then follow up with a polite call to 210-226-BOWL (2695)
Volunteers Lose Battle to Save Lost Baby Killer Whale. Despite efforts by a team of scientists and community members, a young orca dies in New Zealand after being separated from his family.
The killer whale calf known as Bob was found separated from his family in July. (Photo: Orca Research Trust/Facebook)

An infant killer whale that was found lost and starving on New Zealand’s North Island has died following a concerted effort to rehabilitate him and reunite him with his family.

“Sadly the calf lost its battle overnight despite the best efforts of a team of rescuers,” New Zealand Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said in a statement on Saturday.

“I send my sympathies and commiserations to the many people who have worked exhaustively over the last week to try to save the young whale,” Barry said. “It was an effort made in the best spirit of cooperation and conservation of the natural world.”

The orca, which was between six months and a year old, was first spotted in Tauranga Harbour in the Bay of Plenty about three weeks ago, ailing and struggling against the bay’s strong currents.

The Department of Conservation, which has authority over New Zealand orcas, had initially refused to intervene on the killer whale’s behalf but had a change of heart after nearly 7,800 people signed a petition urging action to save him.

“I’m grateful the government made a compassionate choice to allow the team to go in,” said Haze Sommer of the group Tilikum & Co., which issued the petition. “I’ve never had a petition just work like that before.”
A tactical team of government officials, killer whale researchers, Maori tribe members, and others struggled to save the whale. On Wednesday, he was transferred to a small pool onshore to conserve his strength, improve his health, and try to get him to eat.

The baby killer whale—variously called Bob, Tama, Ongare, and Tiger—was given electrolytes and water through a tube and fed a slurry made of fish.

Ingrid Visser, a killer whale scientist and the founder of Orca Research Trust, who worked on the rehabilitation effort, said the whale had made considerable progress since being found emaciated and dehydrated.

“As his heart slowed and his breathing became fainter he was comforted and supported by us all,” the group said on its Facebook page.

“A few hours after his death a Maori karakia [blessing] was performed followed by the Lord’s Prayer in Maori,” it said. “He was then gathered into the folds of the Iwi [Maori tribe] and taken for a private ceremony to be buried with respect and dignity on an island overlooking the ocean and where wild orca frequent.”

No one knows why the whale became separated from his family, and Visser declined to speculate on the reason. She said there are no known cases of wild orcas deliberately abandoning their young.
(Photo: Orca Research Trust/Facebook)

Orcas were spotted in the Bay of Plenty on Tuesday, Visser said, but they were too far away for vocal communications with the lost infant.

Even as it worked to save the orca, the team tried to locate his pod. DNA samples were taken, which could have helped identify his family. There is a small database of individual New Zealand orcas that have been profiled by their DNA.

An estimated 150 to 200 orcas live in New Zealand waters. The exact number of distinct pods is not known.

Even if reunification with his family had not been possible, the plan was still to release the orca back into the sea.

“We have examples of stranded orca who have been accepted into nonfamily groups,” Visser said.

It wasn’t the first time that a young orca had been separated from a family. In 2001, a killer whale named Luna was found alone off Vancouver Island. For the next five years, U.S. and Canadian scientists tried to figure out a way to return Luna to his pod. Before they could, however, Luna was struck and killed by a tugboat in 2006.

In 2002, a young female orca named Springer was found alone in Puget Sound. After spending five months in rehab, she was sent to British Columbia, where she successfully rejoined her family.
Help Retire Lonely Orca Lolita and Others Like Her to a Seaside Sanctuary. Lolita is kept in the smallest, oldest orca tank in North America and has not had contact with another orca since 1980.
Lolita was torn away from her family and natural habitat decades ago, along with dozens of other orcas in Puget Sound who were later sold to marine parks.

Nearly a half-century later, she is the last surviving orca of the 45 who were captured and is still imprisoned by the Miami Seaquarium. She has been alone since 1980, when her tankmate, Hugo, died after repeatedly ramming his head into a wall.

And across the ocean, four orcas named Wikie, Inouk, Moana, and Keijo are trapped at Marineland Antibes in France, where at least 20 orcas have died, including two just last year – among them, a 19-year-old named Valentin, who was killed by severe flooding along with many other animals.

The park is a showcase of neglect and abuse: orcas swim in repetitive patterns, vomit, chew on metal cage bars until they irreparably damage their teeth, and bang their heads against concrete walls. Four months before the floods, Valentin's mother, Freya, also died – decades before the maximum life expectancy of female orcas in nature.

There is overwhelming evidence that orcas suffer in captivity and that the tide of public opinion has turned against marine mammal confinement. It's simply unacceptable that the Miami Seaquarium and Marineland Antibes are still confining intelligent, sensitive orcas to tiny concrete tanks.

Please help free Lolita, Wikie, Inouk, Moana, and Keijo. Urge the parent company of the Miami Seaquarium and Marineland Antibes to retire them to a seaside sanctuary, where they could feel waves, hear the calls of wild orca pods, and finally have some semblance of a natural life. 

Use the form to send an e-mail directly to the parks' parent company, Parques Reunidos, and to its former owner and current shareholder, Arle Capital Partners.

Sperm Whales Found Dead In Germany, Stomachs FULL Of Plastic And Car Parts
Twenty-nine sperm whales were found stranded on shores around the North Sea, an area that is too shallow for the marine wildlife. Only recently were details of the animals’ necropsy released. However, scientists were deeply disturbed by what they found in the animals’ stomachs.
According to a press release from Wadden Sea National Park in Schleswig-Holstein, many of the whales had stomachs FULL of plastic debris, including a 13-meter-long fishing net, a 70 cm piece of plastic from a car and other pieces of plastic litter.

Some suggest that the animals thought the items were food, such as squid, which is their main staple. Others, however, believe that the travesty is largely a result of humanity’s shocking disregard for marine life, which has resulted in an overabundance of plastic in the oceans.

Said Robert Habeck, environment minister for the state of Schleswig-Holstein:

“These findings show us the results of our plastic-oriented society. Animals inadvertently consume plastic and plastic waste, which causes them to suffer, and at worst, causes them to starve with full stomachs.”

Nicola Hodgkins of Whale and Dolphin Conservation echoed that statement. She stated:

“Although the large pieces will cause obvious problems and block the gut, we shouldn’t dismiss the smaller bits that could cause a more chronic problem for all species of cetacean – not just those who suction feed.”

This isn’t the first time a sperm whale has been found dead with innards full of inedible contents. In 2011, a young whale was found floating dead off the Greek island of Mykonos. Its stomach was so distended, biologists thought the animal swallowed a giant squid. However, when its four stomachs were dissected, nearly 100 plastic bags and other pieces of debris were found.

It should be noted that the plastic is not what killed the young male sperm whales. According to National Geographic, they died of heart failure. This was a result of mistakenly swimming into the North Sea, likely in search of squid, and then not being able to support their own body weights in the shallow water. As a result, their internal organs collapsed.

Regardless, the fact that many of their stomachs were full of pollution is a horrible indictment of humans. As has been reported in the past, 80% of the plastic which is discarded on land ends up in the oceans, where it is consumed by wildlife or swirls for years in great garbage patches. The fact that mankind – a species with a smaller brain than a whale – is responsible for such a travesty is ironic and saddening.

Until humans learn the value of living sustainably while respecting all life forms, travesties such as this one will continue to take place.

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This article, by Amanda Froelich: (Sperm Whales Found Dead In Germany, Stomachs FULL Of Plastic And Car Parts) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and