Today’s Animal Rights Headlines

‘Horrific’: Animal rights groups slam Norway for killing pregnant whales
https://www.rt.com/news/380105-norway-kills-pregnant-whales/
“Animal rights groups have slammed Norway for slaughtering pregnant
whales, calling it “even more unacceptable” as they carry the next
generation of the mammals. The criticism follows a new documentary
featuring the murder of female whales carrying a fetus.
“The documentary film dubbed ‘The Battle of Agony’, about the killing
of pregnant whales, was released on NRK, a public television network,
earlier in March.
““The majority of common minke whales caught in Norway have a fetus in
their bellies,” the film said.”

Seafood company convicted of animal cruelty for improperly killing lobster
http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2017/03/10/seafood-company-convicted-animal-cruelty-for-improperly-killing-lobster.html
“The Nicholas Seafoods company of Sydney, Australia, is in hot water
with an animal rights group for causing “immense pain” to one of its
catches.
“Australia’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(RSPCA) reportedly observed workers from Nicholas butchering lobsters
with a band saw, before properly stunning or killing the crustaceans,
reports The Guardian.”

Animal rights protest shuts down major CBD intersection
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/animal-rights-protest-shuts-down-major-cbd-intersection-20170311-guw0bs.html
“About 600 protesters demanding the closure of Australian
slaughterhouses have shut down a major intersection in the CBD.
“The rally, organised by Animal Liberation Victoria, began on the
steps of Parliament House about midday on Saturday, before hundreds
marched down Bourke Street to occupy the intersection at Swanston
Street.”

Berkeley animal rights activist faces federal charges
http://www.dailycal.org/2017/03/09/berkeley-animal-rights-activist-races-federal-charges/
“A Berkeley resident and animal rights activist is facing federal
charges for allegedly entering a restricted area at a Bernie Sanders
rally in Modesto on June 2.
“The federal government alleged in a criminal complaint last month
that Paul Picklesimer, a member of the animal rights group Direct
Action Everywhere, boosted another activist into a sanctioned-off area
in front of the stage at the Sanders’ rally and then entered the area
himself. He is facing up to a year in jail or a fine of $100,000.”

Japan: Queen guitarist condemns dolphin hunting

http://www.thenational.scot/world/japan-queen-guitarist-condemns-dolphin-hunting.22762

BRIAN May has condemned Japan’s dolphin hunting, saying the slaughter of animals should end in the same way society has turned against slavery or witch-burning.

The Queen guitarist and animal rights campaigner said: “Every species, and every individual of every species, is worthy of respect.”

May, in Tokyo for Queen’s sell-out concerts at Budokan arena, added: “This is not about countries. It’s about a section of humanity that doesn’t yet understand that animals have feelings too.”

Protesting against the dolphin hunt in the small Japanese town of Taiji, documented in Oscar-winning film The Cove, has become a cause for celebrities including Sting and Daryl Hannah.

Taylor McKeown, a silver medalist swimmer in the Rio Olympics, who has long been fascinated with dolphins, is now in Taiji to monitor the hunts.

Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer for the Flipper TV series and who stars in The Cove, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill, which depicts a pod of dolphins being herded into an inlet and getting bludgeoned to death, turning the water red with blood.

The hunters in Taiji and their supporters defend the custom as tradition, although eating dolphin is extremely rare in Japan. The Tokyo government also defends whaling as research.

May, who founded the Save Me Trust in 2009 to lobby governments on wildlife policy, said he opposes cruelty against all animals, including foxhunting and bullfighting. Both are also defended as tradition, but that is just an excuse, he said.

“I know Japanese people, so many. They’re decent, they’re kind, they’re compassionate, but they don’t know this is going on,” he said of the dolphin killing. “These are mammals, highly intelligent, sensitive creatures, bringing up their children like we do, and they are being slaughtered and tortured.”

Excerpts from the books “The Sixth Extinction”(s)

As longtime readers of this blog may remember, I’ve quoted from Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin’s 1996 book, The Sixth Extinction; Patterns of Life and the Future of Mankind. Now there’s another book titled The Sixth Extinction (subtitled An Unnatural Order) by Elizabeth Kolbert (sorry, no relation to Steven Colbert…).

Are humans the reason that this wonderful Earth and her inhabitants are all here? Are Homo sapiens the pinnacle of evolution? That and other questions of our evolution are discussed in the chapter “Human Impacts of the Past” in Leakey’s book. Here is a series of excerpts from that original book:

…“For instance, Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-inventor of the theory of natural selection, believed that evolution had been working ‘for untold millions of years…slowly developing forms of life and beauty to culminate in man.’

“Until about a decade ago, most biologists did not feel uncomfortable with speaking of an increase in complexity as an outcome of evolution and using the term progress interchangeably with complexity. Recently, however, a certain nervousness has crept in, so it is now acceptable to talk about complexity, but not about progress. Progress, is it’s argued, implies some kind of mysterious innate tendency for improvement, and that is considered too mystical. …

“Gould was one of the most outspoken in denying progress, asserting that it is ‘a noxious, culturally imbedded, untestable, nonoperational idea that must be replaced if we wish to understand the patterns of history.’

“The ability of the human species to inflict devastation on the natural world at the level of significant extinctions was for a long time thought to be a relatively recent phenomenon in human history. In Wallace’s time, biologists recognized that the swaths of European colonizations of the globe from the seventeenth century onward had left a trail of havoc in nature’s perceived harmony. Many held earlier colonizers, such as the Polynesians throughout the Pacific, to be blameless in this respect, and to have been part of that harmony. (Western sentiments toward technologically primitive societies had in fact swung dramatically, from their being crude and barbaric beasts to being Rousseauean noble savages.) But as Jared Diamond, a biologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, had pointed out, many pre-European societies felt the same about their own forbearers.

Homo sapiens has become the most dominant species on Earth. Unfortunately, our impact is devastating, and if we continue to destroy the environment as we do today, half the world’s species will become extinct early in the next century.

[Again, this was written at the end of the twentieth century.]

“Even though Homo sapiens is destined for extinction, just like other species in history, we have an ethical imperative to protect nature’s diversity, not destroy it.

“Many people find it impossible to contemplate a time when Home sapiens would no longer exist, so they like to assume that we will break the biological rule and continue forever, or at least until our planet ceases to exist, billions of years from now, when its atmosphere is burned off by an expanding sun.

“The sixth extinction is similar to previous biological catastrophes in many ways. For instance, the most vulnerable species are those whose geographical distribution is limited, those in and near the tropics, and those with large body size. It is unusual in several ways, too, most particularly in that large numbers of plant species are being wiped out, which is unprecedented compared with past crises. But in the end, with passage of five, ten, or twenty million years, despite this and other distortions of the biota that will remain, rebound will occur. ‘On geologic scales, our planet will take care of itself and let time clear the impact of any human malfeasance,’ as Gould has put it. Why, then, if it matters not at all in the long run what we do while we are here, should we concern ourselves with the survival of species that, like us, will eventually be no more?

“We should be concerned because, special though we are in many ways, we are merely an accident of history. We did not arrive on Earth as if from outer space, set down amid a wondrous diversity of life, blessed with a right to do with it what we please. We, like every species with which we share the world, are products of many chance events, leading back to that amazing explosion of life forms half a billion years ago, and beyond that to the origin of life itself. When we understand this intimate connection with the rest of nature in terms of our origins, an ethical imperative follows:  it is our duty to protect, not harm them. It is our duty, not because we are the one sentient creature on Earth, which bestows some kind of benevolent superiority on us, but because in a fundamental sense Homo sapiens is on an equal footing with each and every other species here on Earth. And when we understand the Earth’s biota in holistic terms—that is, operating in an interactive whole that produces a healthy and stable living world—we come to see ourselves as part of that whole, not as a privileged species that can exploit with impunity. The recognition that we are rooted in life itself and its well-being demands that we respect other species, not trample them in a blind pursuit of our own ends. And, by the same ethical principle, the fact that one day Homo sapiens will have disappeared from the face of the Earth does not give us license to do whatever we choose while we are here.”

And in Elizabeth Kolbert’s Sixth Extinction, from the prologue:

[Human expansion] “…continues, in fits and starts, for thousands of years, until the species, no longer new, has spread to practically every corner of the globe. At this point, several things happen more or less at once that allow Homo sapiens, as it has come to call itself, to reproduce at an unprecedented rate. In a single century the population doubles; then it doubles again, and then again. Vast forests are razed. Humans do this deliberately, in order to feed themselves. Less deliberately, they shift organisms from one continent to another, reassembling the biosphere.

“Meanwhile, an even stranger and more radical transformation is underway. Having discovered subterranean reserves of energy, humans begin to change the composition of the atmosphere. This in turn, alters the climate and chemistry of the oceans… Some plants and animals adjust by moving. They climb mountains and migrate toward the poles. But a great many—at first hundreds, then thousands, and finally perhaps millions—find themselves marooned. Extinction rates soar, and the texture of life changes.

“No creature has ever altered the life on the planet in this way before, and yet other, comparable events have occurred. Very, very occasionally in the distant past, the planet has undergone change so wrenching that the diversity of life has plummeted. Five of these ancient events were catastrophic enough that they’re put in their own category: the so-called Big Five. In what seems like a fantastic coincidence, but is probably no coincidence at all, the history of these events is recovered just as people come to realize that they are causing another one…”

And speaking of oceans, an article in today’s Washington Post, “What the ‘sixth extinction’ will look like in the oceans: The largest species die off first,” cites a new study of the current mass extinction event and how it is currently affecting marine life.

Atlantic bluefin tuna are corralled by fishing nets during the opening of the season in 2011 for tuna fishing off the coast of Barbate, Cadiz province, southern Spain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Taking on the Terror at Taiji

by Captain Paul Watson

One of the most irritating things about the Taiji campaign in Japan is the infighting amongst individuals and organization involved.

We received a few messages and calls this past week rudely demanding why Sea Shepherd is not in Taiji, Japan?

“Other groups are there, where the hell are you?”

Or “Why have you abandoned the dolphins?”

One group that has been telling us to get out of Taiji for years because we are in their opinion, counter productive called to criticize Sea Shepherd for not being there implying that we have quit the Taiji campign or at least that is what some people want others to believe.

One person called our office to say we had no right to post Blue Cove and Red Cove Day banners. “You’re stealing our ideas and taking credit for what our group is doing?” The very irate caller said, stating we had no right to post these banners.

Very strange since neither Sea Shepherd nor I post these Blue and Red Days banners but many of our supporters do and it has been my belief that the people who created the Blue and Red Day Banners would want them posted by everyone. I do admit I have no idea who created the concept and I don’t really care. If people around the world wish to post these banners, it it their right to do so unless someone, somewhere wishes to invoke a copy right.

To be blunt, Sea Shepherd has not abandoned the dolphins at Taiji. And to be even more blunt we really don’t care what people call us. We are there and will continue to be there for the dolphins. Not for people – for the dolphins.

The strength of an eco-system is in diversity. So also is the strength of a movement. We need diversity of strategies, tactics, ideas and passions.

With Taiji, we have that diversity. We have Sea Shepherd, The Dolphin Project, Save Taiji Dolphins, Earth Island Institute, Surfers for Cetaceans and many more groups and individuals.

We have no intention of bickering with any group nor do we have any interest in criticizing any other group. Our policy on criticisms from other groups is to ignore the criticisms and to refuse to engage in arguments with other groups.

The situation in Taiji continues to evolve. It is no secret that most Cove Guardian veterans have been banned from entry into Japan. This of course presents logistical obstacles that must be solved.

Sea Shepherd has decided to not be on the ground for September. Why? Because we don’t have an available Cove Guardian leader for September and September is the least dangerous month for dolphins in the season. Therefore we have scheduled Operation A for October – January and Operation B for January to March.

Why do we need a good Cove Guardian leader? Because it is our responsibility to see that volunteers from around the world have guidance when on the ground in Taiji. The police have in the past threatened and arrested Sea Shepherd volunteers. Leaders on site need to be there on the ground to offer advice and guidance on hotels, eating places, individuals of concern, the regulations and how to deal with the police and the ultra-nationalists, etc.

Sea Shepherd intends to have leadership on the ground in Taiji beginning in October. We also have plans in process that we do not intend to divulge simply because some people see fit to question our motivations and our strategies.

We are also working on a global plan to address the root of the problem – the captivity industry.

We will never abandon the dolphins. We have opposed the killing of dolphins since 1981 at Iki Island and since 2003 at Taiji. We had crew almost killed in the Tsunami in 2011. We have been on the ground every year in Taiji since 2009 in addition to fighting the slaughter of Pilot whale and dolphins in the Faroe Islands since 1983.

Criticisms, accusations, belittling and condemnation from third parties are meaningless within the context of our history and our achievements.

We salute Ric O’Barry and the Dolphin Project. We salute Louis Psyhoyos for The Cove. We salute the Producers of Blackfish. We salute Surfers for Cetaceans. We salute each and every person who has stood on the beach at Taiji and we salute each and every person who has demonstrated in front of a Japanese Embassy or consulate anywhere in the world.

We also salute our past Cove Guardian leaders who cannot return for the simple fact that they are Cove Guardian veterans. They did not commit a crime but in Japan opposition to the slaughter is treated like a crime.

Ric O’Barry has also suffered being banned demonstrating that it is not just Sea Shepherd’s opposition that is considered a threat.

Ric may disagree with Sea Shepherd’s aggressiveness but to the Japanese authorities, there seems to be no distinction.

In short, if our critics wish to criticize, they will do so and we can do nothing about it. But what we can do is to not join the party.

We need to focus on the real enemy and not be distracted by anyone else for any reason. I know people like to whine and complain, to point fingers and condemn. By all means they are free to do so. We have no control over that.

What we can control is our own response and that will be no response at all.

I see every individual and group involved in this cause as an important part of this important movement. There are only two sides – those who want to see dolphins slaughtered and those who don’t.

It a battle between life and death, good and evil, and we all know who represents Evil and who represents Good and if there are shades of gray poking about here and there, such shadows are of no significance.

We must try as hard as we can to speak in one voice when we can. Sea Shepherd intends to do just that.

Image may contain: camera, one or more people and outdoor

Federal Court: Navy Must Limit Long-Range Sonar Use to Protect Marine Mammal

https://www.nrdc.org/media/2016/160718

Siding with NGOs for 3rd time, Court tells Navy that protecting marine mammal habitat is “of paramount importance”

SAN FRANCISCO – In a unanimous rebuke, the Ninth Circuit court ruled Friday that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) had illegally approved a permit authorizing the Navy to use its high-intensity long-range sonar – called low-frequency active sonar (or LFA) – in more than 70 percent of the world’s oceans. Designed for submarine detection over vast expanses of deep sea, LFA has the capacity to expose thousands of square miles – and everything in it – to dangerous levels of noise.

The case against the Fisheries Service was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), The Humane Society of the United States, Cetacean Society International, League for Coastal Protection, Ocean Futures Society and its President Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Michael Stocker, a bioacoustician and director of Ocean Conservation Research in California.

In its decision, the three-judge panel found that the Fisheries Service had unlawfully ignored reasonable safeguards recommended by the government’s own scientists to reduce or prevent harm from the sonar system, resulting in a “systematic underprotection of marine mammals” throughout “most of the oceans of the world.” Experts had recommended that the Fisheries Service protect the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off of Hawaii, Challenger Bank off of Bermuda, and other areas around the world important to whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine mammals. But the Fisheries Service went ahead and gave the Navy the greenlight to operate its intense sonar in the vast majority of these areas.

Among other things, the court also found that:

  • Protecting marine mammal habitat from Navy sonar is “of paramount importance” under the law.
  • The Fisheries Service has an independent responsibility to ensure the “least practicable impact on marine mammals” (i.e., the lowest possible level of harm)before giving the Navy – or anyone else – permission to harm these protected species; and that the Fisheries Service must err on the side of overprotection rather than underprotection.
  • The Fisheries Service had given “mere lip service” to the requirement to minimize impacts during Navy sonar training.
  • The law requires the Fisheries Service to mitigate harm to individual marine mammals and their habitat, rather than ignore its statutory responsibility until species as a whole are threatened.
Photo @ Jim Robertson

Photo @ Jim Robertson

“Beast Feast” etc., from AR News…

Big Win for Animal Rights: Navy Sonars Are Killing Whales, US Court Rules
http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/25630/20160723/big-win-animal-rights-navy-sonars-killing-whales-united-states-court-rules.htm
“Blue whales can now live in peace and relative quiet after the Ninth
U.S. Circuit Court of San Francisco ruled out the U.S. Navy’s request
to use low-frequency sonar due to its potential harm to marine
animals.
“The U.S. Navy sought the approval from the National Marine Fisheries
Service to use the said sonar under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
However, groups urged the Service to reassess, which led to their
decision not to give the go signal to the Navy’s request.”

Judge will allow animal rights’ vet to examine Cricket Hollow Zoo lions
http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/public-safety/judge-will-allow-animal-rights-vet-to-examine-cricket-hollow-zoo-lions-20160722
“Animal Legal Defense Fund granted part of injunction”
“CEDAR RAPIDS — A federal judge Friday ordered owners of the Cricket
Hollow Zoo in Manchester to let a veterinarian examine two African
lions they are being sued over.”

A/w local OKC outdoor news:

Crossing Community Church, located in OKC, is having its annual “Beast
Feast” on Tuesday night.
Tickets are $15 each and there is a smoked pork dinner.
The guest speaker is a co-host of Inside Outdoors TV, based in Tulsa.
This show began their 10th season this month.
The “Beast Feast” includes a hunting and fishing expo with numerous
prizes to be given away.
This includes hunting trips, fishing trips, guns, rod and reels, knives and
gift cards.

Facing an uphill court fight, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced
last week it was formally
removing the lesser prairie chicken from a federal protection list under
the Endangered Species Act.
This move follows recent court rulings in Texas that stripped the lesser
prairie chicken of federal
protection. However, federal officials say the removal doesn’t mean
authorities had concluded the
lesser prairie chicken didn’t warrant protection for biological reasons.
The agency stated “The service is undertaking a thorough re-evaluation
of the bird’s status and
the threats it faces using the best available scientific information to
determine anew whether listing
under the ESA is warranted.”
The previous rulings found that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to
make a proper evaluation
of a multi-state conservation plan when it listed the lesser prairie
chicken as threatened.
Oil and gas groups had strongly opposed the threatened listing and
ranchers also opposed the
listing.
The lesser prairie chicken’s Great Plains habitat has shrunk by more
than 80 percent since
the 1800s and its population by 99 percent.
It lives primarily in Kansas. However, it also lives in Texas, New
Mexico, Okla. and Colorado.
To keep the birds off the endangered species list, these five states
organized their own
conservation program. It offers economic incentives to landowners and
companies who set
aside land to protect the birds.

 

13533278_1489665091056950_3215226751240158290_n

NOAA reminds people not to touch or pick up seal pups

By PHUONG LE

Associated Press

Published on July 1, 2016 9:19AM

Last changed on July 1, 2016 10:21AM

A harbor seal pup rests on seaweed-covered rocks after coming in on the high tide in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle in October 2011. At least five times this season, well-meaning people have illegally picked up seal pups in Oregon and Washington thinking they were abandoned or needed help, but that interference ultimately resulted in two deaths, said Michael Milstein, a spokesman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

A harbor seal pup rests on seaweed-covered rocks after coming in on the high tide in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle in October 2011. At least five times this season, well-meaning people have illegally picked up seal pups in Oregon and Washington thinking they were abandoned or needed help, but that interference ultimately resulted in two deaths, said Michael Milstein, a spokesman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ralph Heitt picks up a “Seal Sitters” sign after the harbor seal pup he and other volunteers had been watching during his rest period returned to the water in Seattle in October 2011. As harbor seals are being born in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, marine mammal advocates are urging people not to touch or pick up pups that come up on beaches and shorelines to rest.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Ralph Heitt picks up a “Seal Sitters” sign after the harbor seal pup he and other volunteers had been watching during his rest period returned to the water in Seattle in October 2011. As harbor seals are being born in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, marine mammal advocates are urging people not to touch or pick up pups that come up on beaches and shorelines to rest.

A baby seal is seen laying across a shopping tote used to carry it off a beach in Westport, Wash. State wildlife officials had to euthanize the harbor seal pup after it was determined to be unresponsive and lethargic.

Marc Myrsell/Westport Aquarium

A baby seal is seen laying across a shopping tote used to carry it off a beach in Westport, Wash. State wildlife officials had to euthanize the harbor seal pup after it was determined to be unresponsive and lethargic.

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SEATTLE — As harbor seals are being born in the Pacific Northwest, marine mammal advocates up and down the West Coast are urging people not to touch or pick up pups that come up on beaches and shorelines to rest.

At least five times this season, well-meaning people have illegally picked up seal pups in Oregon and Washington thinking they were abandoned or needed help, but that interference ultimately resulted in two deaths, said Michael Milstein, a spokesman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.

It’s an ongoing issue along the entire West Coast, from Alaska to California, when people who think they’re doing the right thing end up stressing or harming the animals instead, officials say.

State wildlife officials had to euthanize one harbor seal pup last month after a woman picked it up on a beach in Westport, Washington, and apparently carried it back to a house in a shopping tote. The animal was unresponsive and lethargic, Milstein said.

Another couple found a seal pup on the beach in Garibaldi, Oregon, and fearing the animal was abandoned, wrapped the seal in a beach towel, put it in their car and placed it in their shower at home, said Kristin Wilkinson, a NOAA Fisheries regional stranding coordinator. Wildlife officers returned that seal to the beach, but it was discovered dead the next day, she said. That couple received a written warning.

In California last year, there were at least 60 cases where people either illegally picked up or fed marine mammals, said Justin Greenman, NOAA’s assistant stranding coordinator for the state. Some of those animals were re-released; others died in care or had to be euthanized.

Selfies with seals or sea lions are also a growing problem, he added.

People’s impulse is to rush in and help, but it’s better to let nature run its course, Wilkinson said. The risk in taking baby seals off the beach is that adult seals may abandon them. “The best chance they have to survive is to stay wild,” she said.

Last month, in a case that garnered national attention, a Canadian man and his son loaded a bison calf into their SUV at Yellowstone National Park because they thought it was an abandoned newborn that would die without their help. The calf later had to be euthanized because it couldn’t be reunited with its herd.

“This is our Northwest version, apparently,” Milstein said.

NOAA Fisheries has launched a “Share the Shore” campaign to remind beachgoers to leave marine mammals alone, to stay at least 100 yards away and reduce other disturbances, such as keeping dogs on leashes. It’s illegal to harass, disturb or try to move young seals or other marine mammals.

Wilkinson said they typically see six to 10 illegal animal handling cases a year, but this year they’re seeing them earlier in the season and within a wider area.

Harbor seal pups are born along the West Coast, typically from February to May in California and from spring to late summer in the Northwest. They use beaches, docks and other shoreline areas to rest, regulate their body temperatures or wait for their mothers, who typically are nearby but may not come near the pups if there are too many disturbances.

Dr. Jeff Boehm, executive director of The Marine Mammal Center in Northern California, said so far this year 18 marine mammals have been brought to his center because they were harassed or illegally picked up. Most were eventually released into the wild after being treated but three have died.

“These animals have an innate charm. When you see one on the beach, they just draw you in. They’re small. They’re vulnerable,” he said, but people should really pause, take a step back and call local authorities who know best what to do with them.

NOAA wildlife officers in Washington are investigating a number of cases, including one in which a seal pup born prematurely parked up on the beach and a homeowner placed the animal in a tote and removed it, worried about bald eagles preying on the seal and making a mess on the beach, Wilkinson said.

Last month, a seal wasn’t illegally picked up but the pup was killed after wildlife officials determined that too much traffic and people on the beach meant that the mother was not likely to reunite with her pup.

In another case, a woman picked up a seal and briefly put it in her car before someone else told her to put the animal back on the beach, said Marc Myrsell, who directs the Westport Aquarium and whose staff responded to that incident. That pup returned to the water on its own.

Last week, a pup was handled so extensively at a beach park that wildlife responders determined the constant human interaction permanently separated the pup from its mother. People held the pup in their laps, cuddled it and pet the animal for many hours, she added. That seal was eventually taken to a rehabilitation facility.

With rehabilitation, “you’re giving them a second start, but you might not be giving them all the tools they need,” said Dr. Joe Gaydos, a wildlife veterinarian with SeaDoc Society. “They probably have a much better chance if they stay with their moms.”

Video: Sea Shepherd Saved a Life Today‏

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE
From Captain Oona Layolle

————————————-

Dear Friends,

While patrolling the vaquita refuge for illegal gillnets this weekend, we discovered a humpback whale hopelessly entangled in a gillnet. We knew that it was a race against time to save this exhausted humpback. Our crew jumped into action to rescue the whale from drowning and I notified the Mexican Navy and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA).

Since mid-January, the crews of the R/V Martin Sheen and M/V Farley Mowat have worked tirelessly to find illegal gillnets and remove them from the Vaquita Refuge in the Gulf of California. Removing gillnets is vital to the survival of both the vaquita and the totoaba bass.

Gillnets are nets of death, trapping any marine life that comes into contact with them. The crew of both vessels have worked to develop net retrieval devices that uncover the sunken gillnets. Search teams from the ships, drag the net retrieval devices in search patterns to find nets daily. Once a net is located by the search teams, I notify the Mexican Navy so that we can remove the nets and the Navy can seize the illegal fishing gear.

With your continued support, the life-saving work of our crews, and our continued partnership with the Mexican Navy, we can save the vaquita from the brink of extinction.

For the oceans,

Captain Oona Layolle

————————————-

WATCH THE COMPELLING VIDEO
Sea Shepherd Saves Humpback Whale

————————————-

READ CAPTAIN OONA’S FULL REPORT
Learn More About the Rescue

Marine mammal strandings concern experts

http://www.dailyastorian.com/Local_News/20160218/marine-mammal-strandings-concern-experts?utm_source=Daily+Astorian+Updates&utm_campaign=451026f0b5-TEMPLATE_Daily_Astorian_Newsletter_Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e787c9ed3c-451026f0b5-109860249

 By Lyra Fontaine

EO Media Group

Published:February 18, 2016 9:01AM
Last changed:February 18, 2016 9:35AM

Daily Astorian/File Photo People stop to look at the dead humpback whale calf that washed ashore on the Seaside beach.

Buy this photo

Neal Maine/For EO Media Group
Workmen move the humpback whale that washed ashore in Seaside.

Buy this photo

A humpback whale that washed ashore in Seaside was one of several strandings

CANNON BEACH — The humpback whale stranded in Seaside in January may have become entangled or struck by a boat, according to Debbie Duffield, a Portland State University biology professor.

More than 30 people gathered for a lecture, “Marine Mammals, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Marine Reserves,” last week at the Cannon Beach Library.

The topic was particularly timely. In the past few weeks, a humpback whale washed ashore in Seaside, and a harbor porpoise and two striped dolphins were found on the North Coast. Experts are still waiting on necropsy results for the whale to see whether it was infected or if it had an accident.

The humpback has bruising that could have been from entanglement or a boat strike, Duffield said. It also carried a fairly heavy parasite load for a whale not more than 2 years old.

The presentation — a partnership between Duffield and Keith Chandler, the Seaside Aquarium general manager — was part of Haystack Rock Awareness Program’s lecture series.

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, which Duffield and Chandler belong to, responds to mammal strandings from Tillamook to Long Beach, Washington. They see 149 stranded animals a year on average. The most common animals include California sea lions, harbor seals and Steller sea lions.

Strandings allow researchers to evaluate otherwise inaccessible animals, and necropsies tell scientists vital physiological and biological information. Marine mammals’ tissues are sampled and used for studies on ocean pollution, biotoxins and other environmental changes.

Once they evaluate a stranded animal, researchers take samples back to the university to study it in a controlled area and test for infections. After they finish the necropsies, they might prepare the bones for students to piece together.

“Every once in awhile we have species that, because of their charismatic value, are of great interest to everybody,” Duffield said.

For example, a killer whale was stranded in Long Beach several years ago, drawing veterinaries, researchers and onlookers alike. Duffield also recalls when a Baird’s beaked whale came in live in Seaside during a volleyball tournament. “Luckily, people weren’t around it when it started to die and thrash, because it could have killed somebody,” she said.

Why do these animals appear on shores? Seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins and porpoises are primarily stranded due to human interaction, such as gunshots, fisheries interaction and net entanglement. Bacterial disease, cancer and infections also cause strandings.

Sometimes the human-related interactions are extreme. Duffield displayed a jarring photo of a California sea lion that had part of its face destroyed by an explosive device.

She also showed a picture of plastics and debris on the Seaside beach. Sea lions get entangled in plastic bands, but since they bite, it’s difficult for humans to help them remove bands and recover from wounds. In 2010, a dead whale stranded in Washington’s Puget Sound beach had 50 gallons of material in its stomach that was mostly algae, but also human debris, such as sweatpants, plastic bags, duct tape and towels.

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network works to improve treatment and disentangle marine mammals from debris and fishery gear.

Duffield said that the animals are resilient. Seals and sea lions often carry worms in their stomach that can form ulcers. “They just live with that,” she said. “Their parasite loads are tremendous.”

The strandings may also point to larger forces at work. The El Niño climate pattern that’s increasing coastal temperatures, along with the warm “blob” of water in the north Pacific Ocean, affect the animals’ prey.

“We’re at the apex of these changes that we can actually follow annually,” Duffield said. “It’s a fascinating change that we’re living through.”

This could explain all those strange happenings in Alaska’s waters

Bears feeding on a fin whale carcass in Larson Bay, Alaska. Photo: NOAA© Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post Bears feeding on a fin whale carcass in Larson Bay, Alaska. Photo: NOAA

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The Washington Post
by Ryan Schuessler

New research is shedding light on how far toxic algae blooms have spread in Alaska, and surprised scientists are saying this is just the beginning.

A study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest fisheries center found domoic acid and saxitoxin – algae-produced neurotoxins that are deadly in high doses — in 13 marine mammal species across Alaska, including as far north as the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Researchers say the study is just the latest piece of evidence that warming ocean temperatures are allowing these blooms to stretch into Arctic ecosystems, threatening marine life and the communities who rely on the sea to survive.

“The waters are warming, the sea ice is melting, and we are getting more light in those waters,” said Kathi Lefebvre, NOAA Fisheries research scientist. “Those conditions, without a doubt, are more favorable for algal growth. With that comes harmful algae.”

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The study, which analyzed more than 900 samples taken from stranded or harvested marine mammals in Alaska between 2004 and 2013, found algal toxins in all species sampled, including bowhead whales, fur seals and sea otters.

“We were surprised,” Lefebvre said. “We did not expect these toxins to be present in the food web in high enough levels to be detected in these predators.”

“There seems to be a potential risk for marine mammal health,” she added. “Then there’s also a seafood security risk, in that these communities rely on and depend on these animals for food.”

“I think that’s going to have a huge impact on the Native communities and coastal communities in Alaska,” said Bruce Wright, senior scientist for the Aleutian and Pribilof Island Association, the federally recognized tribal organization of Alaska’s indigenous Aleut citizens. “I think that we’re going to see a number of shifts in our ecosystem as a consequence of warming, and I think some species will be displaced by other species, and others will disappear. There [are] going to be consequences and people are going to have to adapt.”

NOAA’s new study, released last week, comes after months of strange marine life die offs in Alaska. Last year, NOAA declared the deaths of more than 30 whales in the Gulf of Alaska to be an unusual mortality event. Just last month, thousands of dead birds began washing ashore in Prince William Sound.

“I’m pretty sure that’s associated with these algal blooms,” Wright said of the bird die offs and other events. Toxic algal blooms in the region, particularly 2015’s, likely wipe out entire parts of the lower food chain, he added, the effects of which reverberate through the ecosystem.

A massive toxic algal bloom, believed the largest ever recorded, reaped havoc in the Pacific in 2015. Stretching from southern California north to the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea, it prompted the closure of recreational and commercial fisheries across the American and Canadian coastlines.

“It really does point out that there is a need for more monitoring,” Lefebvre said.

Increasingly warm waters in the north Pacific are believed to be behind other strange disease outbreaks as well. A recent study from the University of Puget Sound found that warmer waters in 2014 contributed to an epidemic of sea star wasting disease in the North Pacific, which decimated starfish populations in the north Pacific.

“My thought is, absolutely, the environment is changing very rapidly in Alaska,” Lefebvre said. “And it’s warming, and there are changes in fundamental parts of the ecosystem.”

She added: “And these ecosystems have developed over millions of years, so when they’re rapidly changing, the chances they’re going to be changed for the better, over all, are very slim.”

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