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I think New Zealand must see the most strandings of pilot whales (pure guess work, not based on data) and sadly there has been another one. 31 confirmed dead so far, this on the back of 22 sperm whales stranding in Tasmania.

 

THIRTY-one pilot whales were confirmed dead today as the lives of 34 others hung in the balance after a mass stranding on a peninsula at the north of New Zealand's South Island.


The remote location of the stranding meant rescuers were unable to help the marine mammals and their survival will depend on the tide, the Department of Conservation's area manager John Mason told the Nelson Mail.

 

 



Not much info so far but read more here: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/dozens-of-whales-dead-after-mass-stranding-in-new-zealand/story-e6frfku0-1226195572623#ixzz1dt0QiU9Z

 

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This is great news, these animals have the heavy burden of being in the most endangered mammals group.

 

Bangladesh is declaring three areas in the southern Sundarbans mangrove forest as dolphin sanctuaries to protect freshwater dolphins, officials say.

 

"We have decided to declare Dhangmari, Chandpai and Dudhmukhi areas of eastern Sundarbans as dolphin sanctuaries so that these mammals can survive in a safe environment," Tapan Kumar Dey, a senior wildlife conservation official, told the BBC.

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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-15517214

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Good Halloween title for you there!

 

Apart from recording stranded cetaceans, we are also linked to various research project. One is run by Dr Adrian Glover here at the museum and in simple terms he studies what lives off whale bone that has sunk to the bottom of the sea.

 

 

Bone-eating ‘zombie’ worms may be good at keeping out of sight, living off dead whales in the darkness of the sea floor, but scientists have found out how to detect them, even if there’s no trace of their bodies or a few million years have gone by!

 

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There is an interesting artical about it on the front page but here is a link  http://www.nhm.ac.uk/about-us/news/2011/october/bone-eating-zombie-worms-can-no-longer-hide105243.html

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We've had quite a few reports in recently and I'd like to thank everyone that has reported to us. Even if the animal is just a bag of bones and blubber (it happens more then you'd think), we still want to hear about it!

 

Notably I'd like to thank the Reciever of Wreck and London coastguards who have helped us today with the pick up of a harbour porpoise, in Chiswick London.

 

Sadly a common dolphin at Shaldon beach, South Devon had to be disposed of as we couldn't organise a driver for it to be picked up (people are always busy during the school holidays), but a massive thanks to Sarah and Paul for all your help and I'm sorry we couldn't make it work.

 

Lastly a massive thanks to Dave and the owners of Woolacombe beach (nice work if you can get it), who helped us pick up a young common dolphin from North Devon a few weeks ago.

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Large numbers of strandings, mainly bottlenose dolphins, has been happening on the Gulf Coast.

 

There has been some press speculation that it is linked to the recent oil spill however its worth noting that numbers were up before the spill happened. It's unlikely that the spill has helped and it looks like the oil may have decreased dolphin immunity, increasing their susceptibility of brucella, but it's not the only/main problem in this situation.

 

Sorry I'm going to link to 2 stories, the first one has some excellent graphs and maps to get a clear picture of whats going on:

 

 

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Source: http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/10/whale-dolphin-deaths-gulf-twice-normal

 

This second one has a good write up..

 

The strandings peaked this year in March, with 72 reported from Florida to the Texas-Louisiana border. Sixty-seven of those were bottlenose dolphins. Since August, 52 more strandings have been reported, including nine this month.

 

More than 45,000 dolphins are estimated to call the Gulf home, according to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

 

And while many speculate that the deaths may be linked to the Gulf oil spill, scientists say the phenomenon started months before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and began pouring oil into the Gulf.

 

“We were already consulting with the mortality group (to open up an investigation) when the oil spill occurred. And the number has never gone back down,” Fougères said.

 

Source: http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20111024/ARTICLES/111029742

 

 

Unfortunetly it is often very hard to tell what is causeing an event like this, not sure if we'll find out why this time.

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We ladies have been known to go to great lenghts for softer skin but new research suggests killer whales may be showing us all up!

 

A new study for the first time shows that some killer whales wander nearly 10,000 kilometres from Antarctica's Southern Ocean into tropical waters - but not to feed or breed.

  
Rather, these fearsome predators at the apex of the marine food chain traverse the sea at top speed, slowing as they reach warmer climes to exfoliate, the study speculates.
  
They are driven, in other words, by the urge or need to make their skin all shiny and new.
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Durban and Pitman suspect that killer whales move into warmer waters in order to shed a layer, along with an encrustation of single-celled algae called diatoms, without freezing to death.
  
Orcas are the smallest cetaceans, a group including whales and dolphins, which live for extended periods in subzero Antarctic waters. Replacing and repairing outer skin in waters where the surface temperature is minus 1.9 degree Celsius, may be dangerous, even lethal.
  
Surface temperatures at the killer whales' tropical destinations, by contrast, were a balmy 20.9 to 24.2 C.

Original source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1599657/latest-from-wire/

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We are getting rumbling rumours of a second sei whale stranding (no jokes about buses please), this time in Scotland. There was definitally a stranding yesterday but the species ID is a little uncertain.

 

Details are all a bit vague, but I believe it was a live stranding that unfortunately died. I'm sure our Scottish team will be involved in the postmortem, the last one was quite badly decomposed so getting details wasn't very easy, sounds like this one should be better.

 

Its a big shock if its is a sei, to get 2 in a year is unheard of but 2 in a week....

 

Edit - chanced seemed a bit slim, the animal has been confirmed as a fin whale. It can often be the case that if you get a rare stranding every other stranding for a week or so after is reported as that species, I guess its in peoples minds.

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We often get reports of 'shot' animals here but it has, so far, never proved to be the case. Scavenger damage can produced perfectly round holes that do look a lot like bullet wounds. In this case however it sadly looks like the animal was in fact shot, as a bullet has been recovered from the jaw.

 

Very sad story.

 

The nearly 11-foot-long short-finned pilot whale, which was near death, weighed about 740 pounds but should have tipped the scales at more than 1,000 pounds. It died shortly after police responded, but it wasn’t until a necropsy was performed that the cause of death was revealed.

 

Someone had shot the whale.

 

The wound near its blow hole had closed and faded somewhat, indicating the animal had been wounded as long as a month ago, said Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. The bullet lodged in the whale’s jaw, causing an infection that left it unable to eat.

 

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Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/officials-search-for-person-who-shot-whale-that-washed-ashore-in-new-jersey/2011/10/04/gIQAuFkiKL_story.html

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The Sei Whale reported in the Humber Estuary yesterday has unfortunately died.

The animal was washed ashore on a high tide this morning. It is believed to be a young female animal. Vets from the Institute of Zoology at London Zoo have travelled there to hopefully determine why she died.

 

More information at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-humber-15104896

 

 

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Sei whales are rarely stranded on UK shores, the last stranding we have in our records was in 2001. This animal is only the 14th recorded occasion we have of this species in almost 100 years of strandings data.

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Hearing rumours of a sei whale in Humberside this morning, which is very exciting. These are very rare strandings as they prefer deep off shore waters, we've only seen 3 in the last 22 years. The boys are on their way to investigate, and hopfully perform a post mortem.

 

Sei whales are the third largest Balaenopteridae and are up to 20m long they are filter feeders, enjoying the same diet as other filter feeders, consisting mainly of krill. They got hit hard by the hunting and were initally protected, however sadly they remain a part of the 'research' conducted by Japan. It can be fairly easy to confuse them with fin whales but an inside tip for you is that fin whales have asymmetrically patterened baleen, gray and white, while the sei whales is just white. They can shift as well, reaching 30 miles an hour but only for short distances, but compared to other species they are a bit rubbish are diving, only reaching shallow depths and rarely staying down for more then 15 minutes.

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Happy anniversary!

 

I guess in an ideal world groups like this wouldn't have to exist at all, let alone to have to be around for 21 years. However as they are needed it's great when you get groups that are both professional and caring.

 

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) will celebrate its 21st anniversary at a special banquet on Saturday 19 November at the Grand Hotel in Malahide, Co Dublin.

 

The evening will consist of a three-course meal and entertainment including music and dancing, a film show of IWDG activities over the years, an international guest speaker (to be announced) exploring the impact of the IWDG on cetacean recording.

 

The marine wildlife conservation group's AGM will take place earlier in the day at the Grand Hotel at 2pm.

Tickets for the banquet are €60 - book early as places are limited to 120. To book contact Shay Fennelly at shayfennelly@eircom.net or 087 642 8902.

 

Overnight accommodation is also available at the Grand Hotel with special rates for banquet guests of €90 for a single room and €110 for a double/twin room. To book contact Hilary Fogarty, quoting IWDG as the reference, at 01 845 0000, 01 816 8281 or event@thegrand.ie.

 

 

Source: http://afloat.ie/port-news/marine-wildlife/item/16958-iwdg-21st-anniversary-banquet-in-november/

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You don't have to look deep into your hearts to know that keeping these animals in tanks just feels wrong. I think the caption on the picture says it all really.

 

 

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In a new study, nearly a year in the making, former SeaWorld trainers Jeffrey Ventre, MD and John Jett, Ph.D, take us deep behind the scenes of Marine parks and their ability to provide environments adequate for keeping killer whales alive in captivity.


Drs Ventre and Jett introduce us to detailed observations and strong statistical calculations that add up to an abundance of evidence that captivity kills orcas, usually at a young age… and that stresses, social tensions and poor health are chronic issues in marine park facilities.

 

Interview with Jeff Ventre: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/09/killer-whale-trainer/

 

Full report: https://theorcaproject.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/keto-tilikum-express-stress-of-orca-captivity/

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I'd like to pretend I'm a bigger person than I am and say I'm in no way jealous of this lady, but I can't, what a cool job! Worth clicking the link to watch the video.

 

 

Next year Dr. Herzing plans to begin a new phase of her research, something she says has been a lifetime goal: real-time two-way communication, in which dolphins take the initiative to interact with humans.

Up to now, dolphins have shown themselves to be adept at responding to human prompts, with food as a reward for performing a task. “It’s rare that we ask dolphins to seek something from us,” Dr. Herzing said.

But if she is right, the dolphins will seek to communicate with humans, and the reward will be social interaction itself, with dolphins and humans perhaps developing a crude vocabulary for objects and actions.

 

 

Source with a really good video: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/science/20dolphin.html?_r=1

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When they say 'found' they don't mean as in down the back of the sofa, didn't know it was there. More, they though it was something else but research and DNA shows its a new species.

 

Previous research had shown that the DNA found in the dolphins differed from that of the known bottlenose speciesTursiops truncatus and Tursiops aduncus.

 

But in order to define a new species, more evidence is needed. Kate Charlton-Robb of Monash University in Melbourne and her colleagues studied dolphin skulls found in a number of museums, as well as more detailed analysis of DNA, to show that T. australis is clearly a different animal.

 

 

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Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14921665

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I've not updated for a few weeks as I've been on holiday and we've had a bit of a busy run of things.

 

A live stranded harbour porpoise on the Isle of Wight was picked up for pm by our team http://www.islandpulse.co.uk/b2/british-divers-attempt-to-rescue-porpoise-8756/

 

I went to Dorset on Friday to pick up another porpoise that stranded in Dorset last week, a massive thank you to Dave and Dorset council for all their help!

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