Whale calf died after getting tangled in crab lines

http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20170511/whale-calf-died-after-getting-tangled-in-crab-lines?ct=t(DA_Updates)&mc_cid=9595e17d2d&mc_eid=e8e1dd5a65

Migrating north to Arctic waters
 Last changed on May 11, 2017 10:20AM
A dead whale calf was examined by researchers on May 4 after being towed to an island in the Columbia estuary.

CASCADIA RESEARCH

A dead whale calf was examined by researchers on May 4 after being towed to an island in the Columbia estuary.

LONG BEACH, Wash. — An entangled gray whale calf died after being caught in crab pot lines, Olympia-based science group Cascadia Research Collective reported following an examination.

The whale, a 20-foot-7-inch male born this calving season, was initially reported dead in late April, anchored in place half a mile off of the Seaview beach approach. On May 1, it was discovered the whale was entangled in apparent commercial crab pot gear, researchers said.

The whale was towed to a remote island inside the mouth of the Columbia River.

A necropsy last week showed the whale was at the age when mothers with calves migrate north from their winter breeding and calving grounds in Baja to feeding areas primarily in Arctic waters. This migration is often close to shore and through commercial crabbing grounds.

“The whale was entangled in numerous areas including through the mouth and showed bruising around these areas indicating it was alive when it became entangled (and) had died as a result of the entanglement,” researchers said. “The whale was in excellent body condition with a large and oily blubber layer and even fat reserves around the heart all indicating it had been in good health prior to experiencing a more sudden death. Many of the internal organs were decomposed likely as a result of rapid decomposition due to the insulating blubber layer.”

Whale entanglements have increased in recent years along the West Coast, most dramatically with humpback whales off California, and have been of growing concern, according to Cascadia Research. Authorities are on the lookout for another gray whale first spotted off California that has its head stuck in a metal framework.

These incidents have prompted increased efforts to identify solutions as well as help disentangle whales when encountered still alive, the scientists said. Another threat to whales was highlighted by a boat strike on a well-known adult gray whale in Puget Sound, caught on video in April. Fortunately, that whale survived, though the full extent of its injuries are not yet known, researchers said.

There are an estimated 26,000 gray whales that migrate off the West Coast, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which calls their recovery “a great conservation success story.”

Gray whales were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994.

Back To the Bad Old Days

What’s up with all the anti-wildlife legislation going on around the country these days? Everywhere you look there’s some state senator or representative introducing bills to keep non-human animals down and implement some new form of cruelty to punish them for the crime of not being born of our privileged species.

A few examples: a self-amused eastern Washington representative is calling for east-side wolves to be moved out of his district to the west side of the Cascade Mountains; at the same time Washington State politicians just introduced three bills to make it easier for ranchers to use lethal measures on wolves whenever they see fit; and of course you’ve heard that Montana’s public servants are on a rampage to get rid of their resident wolves. Now one of their legislators wants to lower the minimum hunting age for that state to nine years old.

Meanwhile, in Alaska, a senator just put forth legislation to instate a $100.00 bounty on sea otters! Never mind that these playful, aquatic mammals were nearly completely wiped out during the fur trade era, are critically endangered or extinct from much of their former range and are still listed in Alaska as Threatened or Endangered under the federal ESA, those poor, underpaid (sarcasm intended) commercial crab fishermen see them as competition. (Far from downtrodden, crabbers take pride in being the wealthiest of commercial fishermen; no doubt the senator who proposed the bounty is counting on a kickback into his campaign coffers from the crabbing industry for his otter oppression bill.)

And the list of detrimental anti-wildlife legislation goes on and on.

Is it just me, or have good ol’ boy state politicians stepped up the pace of non-human animal persecution? It’s as though they’re intentionally trying to drag us back to the bad old days of the 1800s, arguably this country’s most reckless period for uncontrolled animal exploitation—besides, perhaps, the present.

Take Action:

Not surprisingly, state legislators only take input from residents of their given state, but since there are bogus bills and measures cropping up across the country, there should be something to speak out against wherever you live. For instance, if you live in Washington State, contact your senator and urge them to oppose anti-wolf bills SB 5187, SB 5188 and SB 5193. Let them know:

  • These three bills would undermine the state’s wolf management plan by giving authority to the county legislators and local sheriffs over the state wildlife agency biologists, and would allow the public to override the state and kill wolves perceived to be a threat to livestock on public and private lands.
  • There are only 50 wolves in Washington.  Now is not the time to remove their protection.
  • Washington’s wolf management plan was created with massive public involvement and adopted unanimously by the Washington Wildlife Commission; powerful ranching advocates should not be allowed to undermine it.
Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2013. All Rights Reserved