Gray Whale Threats


According to the Government of Canada’s Management Plan for gray whales, threats to the eastern North Pacific population of gray whales include:[106]

  • Increased human activities in their breeding lagoons in Mexico
  • Climate change
  • Acute noise
  • The threat of toxic spills
  • Aboriginal whaling
  • Entanglement with fishing gear
  • Boat collisions
  • Impacts from fossil fuel exploration and extraction

Western gray whales are facing, the large-scale offshore oil and gas development programs near their summer feeding ground, as well as fatal net entrapments off Japan during migration, which pose significant threats to the future survival of the population.[32]

The substantial nearshore industrialization and shipping congestion throughout the migratory corridors of the western gray whale population represent potential threats by increasing the likelihood of exposure to ship strikes, chemical pollution, and general disturbance.[33][97]

Offshore gas and oil development in the Okhotsk Sea within 20 km (12 mi) of the primary feeding ground off northeast Sakhalin Island is of particular concern. Activities related to oil and gas exploration, including geophysical seismic surveying, pipelaying and drilling operations, increased vessel traffic, and oil spills, all pose potential threats to western gray whales. Disturbance from underwater industrial noise may displace whales from critical feeding habitat. Physical habitat damage from drilling and dredging operations, combined with possible impacts of oil and chemical spills on benthic prey communities also warrants concern.[33][58]

Along Japanese coasts, four females including a cow-calf pair were trapped and killed in nets in the 2000s. There had been a record of deceased individual thought to be harpooned by dolphin-hunters found on Hokkaido in 90s.[107][108] Meats for sale were also discovered in Japanese markets as well.[109]


A gray whale in captivity

Because of their size and need to migrate, gray whales have rarely been held in captivity, and then only for brief periods of time.

In 1972, a three-month-old gray whale named Gigi (II) was captured for brief study by Dr. David W. Kenney, and then released near San Diego.[110]

In January 1997, the newborn baby whale J.J. was found helpless near Los Angeles, California, 4.2 m (14 ft) long and 800 kilograms (1,800 lb) in weight. Nursed back to health in SeaWorld San Diego, she was released into the Pacific Ocean on March 31, 1998, 9 m (30 ft) long and 8,500 kg (18,700 lb) in mass. She shed her radio transmitter packs three days later.[111]

Save the Wild Chukchi Sea—Not Just for You and Not for Me

What a strange time we live in. While Earth’s ecosystems are collapsing, both on land and throughout the sea, the same human greed that’s killing the planet is being planned for the future—as if we’re all that matters.

But as the pack ice melts earlier each year, the thing almost no one mentions is that the portion of the Arctic Ocean known as the Chukchi Sea has been claimed for centuries as strategic and crucial summer feeding grounds for grey whales. These ocean giants only want the amphipods and other benthic crustaceans they can find burrowed in the sand below the cold waters in a region nobody else wanted until now.

If things go as some people plan, Shell and others will soon follow the whales’ ancient migration route north with their oil drilling rigs and deafening seismic cannons for some human business as usual, without stopping to think about the one spill that could send the place to hell. Amphipods cannot live in oil-soaked sand, and whales cannot live without them.

After surviving the barbaric, rapacious whaling era, how sad for the grey whales to simply starve to death as a result of human actions that so many knew should never happen.

Unless the general consensus is that the planet’s going to die anyway (thanks to the likes of them) so why stop now, what are these greedy little monsters thinking? Anything?

I don’t know if there are enough folks who care about others besides themselves or their species to prevent the status quo from destroying the sea, the land, and the atmosphere we all live in, but a lot of lives depend on it.

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2015 All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2015 All Rights Reserved

Hundreds march on Port of Seattle to protest Arctic oil drilling

Hundreds march on Port of Seattle to protest Arctic oil drilling

Seattle police accompany hundreds of protesters as they march on the Port of Seattle on Monday.

SEATTLE – Hundreds of protesters marched Monday on the Port of Seattle, where a massive floating Arctic oil drilling rig is parked on the waterfront.

Organizers say their goal is to block the gates to Terminal 5 and engage in civil disobedience to stop any work on the rig.

The Polar Pioneer, which Shell hopes to use to drill off Alaska’s northwest coast this summer, arrived in Seattle on Thursday. Hundreds of protesters in kayaks and other vessels turned out on Saturday for a protest dubbed the “Paddle in Seattle.”

They plan to continue their protest on land Monday.

The protesters say they’re concerned about the risk of oil spill in the Arctic and the effects of burning fossil fuels on climate change.

Officials in Alaska have touted the money the drilling could bring the state, as well as economic benefits to the Pacific Northwest, which uses much of Alaska’s oil.

Also see:



‘Kayactivists’ protest as Arctic drill rig moors off Seattle

'Kayactivists' protest as Arctic drill rig moors off Seattle»Play Video
A small flotilla of kayakers and other protest boats follow as the oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer is towed toward a dock Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Elliott Bay in Seattle.(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
SEATTLE (AP) – As a massive oil drill rig moved into Seattle, about two dozen activists in kayaks paddled to the middle of Elliott Bay, linked boats and unfurled a banner to make a stand against Royal Dutch Shell’s plan to open a new frontier of fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic Ocean.

The 400-foot-long rig rising nearly 300 feet above the water dwarfed the flotilla of tiny boats on Thursday, as it passed the city’s Space Needle and downtown skyline and docked at Terminal 5.

The watery protest marked a pivotal moment for an environmental movement increasingly mobilized around climate change, but the scene also suggested how outmatched Shell’s opponents have been as they try to keep the petroleum giant from continuing its $6 billion effort to open new oil and gas reserves in one of the world’s most dangerous maritime environments.

“The environmental issues are big and this is an opportunity to present a David versus Goliath position – the people and the planet versus Shell – and create a national debate about drilling in the Arctic,” said Paul Adler, 52, of Shoreline, who paddled a single white kayak to “unwelcome” the Polar Pioneer.

Environmental groups in the Pacific Northwest are sensing a shift in the politics that surround energy production and have mobilized against a series of projects that would transform the region into a gateway for crude oil and coal exports to Asia.

“These proposals have woken a sleeping giant in the Northwest,” said Eric de Place, policy director for Sightline Institute, a liberal Seattle think tank. “It has unleashed this very robust opposition movement.”

Added Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who joined the so-called kayaktivists on the water Thursday: “Shell’s attempt to use Seattle as a home base for Arctic drilling may be the last battle on the front of Arctic drilling, and the energy I have seen and felt from people in the region is really powerful and it gives me hope that we can stop Arctic drilling.”

hell still needs other permits from state and federal agencies, including one to actually drill offshore in the Arctic and another to dispose of wastewater. But it’s moving ahead meanwhile, using the Port of Seattle to load drilling rigs and a fleet of support vessels with supplies and personnel before spending the brief Arctic summer in the Chukchi Sea, which stretches north from the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.

Hurricane-force winds and 50-foot seas can quickly threaten even the sturdiest ships in the seas off Alaska. But Shell cleared a major bureaucratic hurdle Monday when the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, after taking public comments and reviewing voluminous reports, approved the multiyear exploration plan.

If exploratory drilling goes well, Shell plans to invest billions more in infrastructure to open this new frontier, building pipelines under the ocean and onto the tundra of Alaska’s North Slope, along with roads, air strips and other facilities.

Shell’s last effort to do exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean also left from Seattle and ended badly. The Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk – a rig Shell had spent hundreds of millions of dollars to customize – were stranded by equipment failures in terrible weather, and the Coast Guard barely rescued the Kulluk’s crew. Federal investigations resulted in guilty pleas and fines for rig owner Noble Drilling.

The Kulluk ended up on a scrap heap in China. Shell is leasing the Polar Pioneer in its stead, again backed by the Noble Discoverer. But Shell says it has gained vital experience and can safely drill on its leases in the Chukchi Sea, as well as the Beaufort Sea, an even more remote stretch north of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Shell spokesman Curtis Smith called Monday’s approval an important milestone that “signals the confidence regulators have in our plan.”

Officials in Alaska have welcomed the drilling, even flying to Seattle this week to lobby for Shell’s plan. Labor groups representing port workers noted that Foss Maritime is employing more than 400 people already to service the Shell fleet.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, for his part, is strongly against hosting Shell’s fleet, warning that the port could face daily fines because it lacks the proper permit.

Those fines would amount to no more than $500 a day for the port – a tiny drop in a very large barrel if Shell, one of the world’s largest companies, manages to recover billions of gallons of oil from the Arctic Ocean.

Seattle’s environmentalists, however, have a sense that their time is now.

“Unless people get out there and put themselves on the front lines and say enough is enough, then nothing will ever change,” said Jordan Van Voast, 55. “I’m hopeful that people are waking up.”

When the Kulluk was being prepared in 2012 for Shell’s last Arctic venture, “it wasn’t this big civic moment,” recalled KC Golden, a senior policy adviser for Climate Solutions, an organization advocating for renewable energy.

But “now it is,” Golden said. “That’s a measure of how the awareness has grown. I think it’s a moment for Seattle.”

Travel Scene: Global warming opens Northwest Passage to pleasure cruises

Mon Oct 6, 2014.

Global warming and the resultant melting of parts of the Arctic icecap have opened a new world of travel — a 900-mile, 32-day luxury cruise with fares starting at $20,000.

Crystal Cruises, one of the world’s top-rated cruise lines, has announced that one of its ships, the Crystal Serenety, will traverse the fabled Northwest Passage on this Pacific-to-Atlantic voyage, beginning from Seward, Alaska, through the north part of mainland Canada and the Arctic Ocean to New York City.

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Crystal says it will be the first luxury cruise ship to make this voyage, following the route that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundson discovered some 100 years ago.

Crystal, in press releases, says the journey, in August 2016 will be on “a mystical Pacific-Atlantic sea route far beyond the Arctic Circle that for centuries captured the imagination of kings, explorers and adventurers.”

Part of the reason that the Northwest Passage captured so many imaginations for many centuries, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, was that it was choked with ice and impossible to navigate. But climate change has set off a scramble to control the now-accessible shipping routes and mineral rights.

The Crystal Serenity, Bloomberg says, is simply following the wake of the freighters that are already plying the Arctic.

Climate-change tourism will offer something greatly different than a usual journey. The cruise, notes Bloomberg, will offer passengers kayaking and tundra treks, up-close sightings of polar bears, narwhals, musk oxen and caribou.

“These are encounters,” notes the newsletter, with the inhabitants and distinctive elements of the world that climate change —- the same thing that’s allowing the cruise to take place — is threatening.

Crystal bills the trip as a “once-in-a-lifetime expeditionary voyage that marries extreme wilderness adventure with unsurpassed luxury voyage.” It adds that cruisers “will bear witness to breathtaking landscapes that few have ever seen, from spectacular glaciers to towering fjords and experience nature that is truly wild.”

The cruise line says that two years of extensive planning has gone into the itinerary, balancing days at sea with scheduled ports of call. Designed to be flexible, the cruise will incorporate unplanned “expedition days,” when favorable weather conditions allow. These treks will be led by veteran explorers.

All told, a team of 14 experts, including scientists and an Arctic guide, will be aboard. Ports of call include remote areas of the Canadian Arctic such as Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and Cambridge Bay in Nunavut.

The cruise sails from Aug. 16 to Sept. 17, 2016. Prices start at $19,975 double occupancy and cabins are on sale.

Crystal’s web site, at, offers more information.

Plans set for new Mexico City airport

If you’ve flown into Mexico City’s airport — and we have — you will know that a new airport is needed, and one apparently is on the way.

A new $9.2 billion facility is planned that will quadruple the capacity of the current Benito Juarez Airport. The nation’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto has described the project as Mexico’s largest infrastructure addition in recent years and called it “Mexico’s gateway to the world.”

Travel Weekly reports that the airport will be built on 11,400 acres of federally owned land adjacent to the existing airport and the plan is to handle up to 120 million passengers a year — four times the capacity of the existing facility.

The design of the structure will be unique: The soaring vaulted terminal and lightweight glass and steel structure will be designed in the form of a giant X. No date has been set for the start of the project.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 10:  Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends the 86th Academy Awards nominee luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 10, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

One of the actors in “Titanic”

Never Mind, I Fuckin’ Hate ’em*

…Despite anything I might have said in yesterday’s post, In Defense of Our Misanthropy, some people deserve nothing less than full on hatred!

(*Title by my wife.)

Moose stabbed to death in Alaska park; suspects in custody

ANCHORAGE, Alaska   • Three men are in custody in Alaska’s largest city after a young moose was stabbed to death at a popular local park.

Anchorage police say 25-year-old Johnathan Candelario, 28-year-old James Galloway and 33-year-old Nick Johnston are under arrest in connection with the death of the yearling moose Tuesday night near a bike trail in Russian Jack Springs Park.

The men were arrested on charges of animal cruelty, wanton waste of big game and tampering with evidence. It’s unclear if they have attorneys.

Police say several witnesses called shortly before 7:30 p.m. reporting that the three men were jumping on the animal, kicking it and stabbing it with a large knife.

Police officers quickly located the three suspects nearby. The animal was found dead.

6-4Hansens-trophy-goat Alaskan serial killer, Robert Hansen

Chorus of Outrage as Obama Administration Approves Arctic Drilling for Shell Oil

Thanks to a government ruling on Tuesday, Shell may soon be able to continue drilling in the Arctic, despite risks to the environment and animals who live there. (Photo: Day Donaldson/flickr/cc)

Environmental activists expressed shock and outrage on Tuesday after the U.S. Department of the Interior upheld a 2008 lease sale on the Arctic’s Chuchki Sea, opening the door for continued oil exploration in a region long eyed for drilling by Shell Corporation and increasingly strained under the effects of climate change.

The decision opens up 30 million acres in the Chuchki Sea to fossil fuel exploration and drilling, a move which state and national green groups called “unconscionable.”

“Our Arctic ocean is flat out the worst place on Earth to drill for oil,” said Niel Lawrence, Alaska director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The world’s last pristine sea, it is both too fragile to survive a spill and too harsh and remote for effective cleanup.”

In January 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Interior Department had violated the law when it sold those 2008 leases—a deal that came about during George W. Bush’s presidency, but was upheld two years later by the Obama administration.

The 2014 decision ordered the Interior Department to reconsider the leases. A month later, the department admitted that drilling in the Chucki Sea was likely to have devastating consequences, with a spill risk of 75 percent or more.

“It is unconscionable that the federal government is willing to risk the health and safety of the people and wildlife that live near and within the Chukchi Sea for Shell’s reckless pursuit of oil,” said Marissa Knodel, a climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “Shell’s dismal record of safety violations and accidents, coupled with the inability to clean up or contain an oil spill in the remote, dangerous Arctic waters, equals a disaster waiting to happen.”

“Ignoring its own environmental review, the U.S. Department of the Interior has opened the door for drilling in the remote and iconic Arctic Ocean,” said the Sierra Club on Tuesday.

“It’s shocking that the Department of the Interior would knowingly move forward with a plan that has a 75 percent chance of creating a major spill in the Chukchi Sea. We can’t trust Shell or any other oil company with America’s Arctic,” Cindy Shogan, executive director of the Alaska Wilderness League, added. “Shell has proposed an even dirtier and riskier Arctic drilling program for this summer. The Obama administration has seen the impacts of what a major oil spill looks like.”

The Bureau of Ocean Management will next conduct an environmental assessment on Shell’s exploration plan for the Chuchki Sea, which could take 30 days or more.

The Chuchki Sea is home to an estimated 2,000 polar bears and serves as the feeding grounds for migratory gray whales.

“The industrial oil development that Interior hopes will flow from its decision to approve the Chukchi lease sale gives us a 75 percent chance of a large oil spill and a 100 percent chance of worsening the climate crisis,” Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity, added. “I don’t like those odds.”

18 wolves shot near Interior AK village to boost moose population

Dermot Cole

End the Iditarod
Action Alert from

February 2015


Iditarod season is upon us again – March 7, 2015

Go here and Write to Iditarod sponsors and supporters


Sled Dogma: Reality Bites believes that a tethering ban on a federal level is necessary to significantly improve conditions for the sled dogs associated with commercial mushing. Currently commercial sled dog operations are exempt from federal regulations under a “working dog” exclusion.

Please watch Dream an Iditarod Dream (with links to other videos). This video shows the living conditions of the Iditarod “participants” when they’re not “racing”.

See for yourself the conditions in which commercial sled dogs in Alaska are forced to live. These animals are located on a property deep in the woods with no residence on site — they are left alone to fend for themselves without any human supervision besides a daily distribution of food and water.

sled dogs

sled dogs

sled dogs

In the fall in Alaska, Iditarod “training” begins:

sled dogs
“Trainer” in ATV…

sled dogs
One way to transport dogs to “race” venues

For more information, images and videos, visit I Hurt A and

Return to Action Alerts

Industrial logging invasion of the Tongass imminent! ‏


One of America’s most precious and endangered habitats is under siege — again.

Contrary to its own policies, the Obama Administration is rushing through a massive old-growth timber sell-off in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska — the largest sale of its kind in decades. This industrial level logging could put many vulnerable bird species at risk.

Audubon has joined with other conservation groups in federal court to stop this malicious sell-off of America’s globally important coastal temperate rainforest.

The ancient coastal woodlands of the Tongass are home to many bird species that depend on old-growth forests for their survival. Native species include nearly a third of the world’s Red-breasted Sapsucker population and at least 20% of the global population of pacific-slope flycatchers. Marbled Murrelets — listed under the Endangered Species Act in Washington, Oregon and California — are old-growth-dependent birds that rely on Tongass old growth to support healthy populations.

Perhaps most at-risk from the so-called Big Thorne timber sale is the Queen Charlotte Goshawk, an old-growth dependent raptor. Only 300 to 700 breeding pairs of these birds survive in the wild. The proposed timber sale would degrade goshawk habitat, perhaps past the point of no return.

The Big Thorne timber sale would put 120 million board feet of old-growth trees literally on the chopping block. What’s worse, this is only the first of four massive logging incursions proposed by the US Forest Service.

Four years ago, the Obama Administration said it was bringing to an end the era of massive and destructive logging in the Tongass. This latest sale, sadly, is a giant step in the wrong direction.