Iceland sets target of 191 kills as country resumes whaling

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/18/iceland-sets-target-of-191-kills-as-country-resumes-whaling

Authorities grant whalers a quota to hunt the endangered fin whale this summer after a two-year pause

Whaling company Hvalur has a quota of 191 kills as Iceland announced it would resume hunting the endangered fin whale this summer.
 Whaling company Hvalur has a quota of 191 kills as Iceland announced it would resume hunting the endangered fin whale this summer. Photograph: Adam Butler/AP

Icelandic fishermen will resume their hunt for the endangered fin whale this year after a two-year pause and have set a target of 191 kills for the season.

An apparent loosening of Japanese regulations on Icelandic exports had made the resumption of the hunting commercially viable again, the country’s only fin whaling company, Hvalur, announced.

The firm also has plans to collaborate with researchers from the University of Iceland to develop medicinal products made of whale blubber and bones, aimed at combating iron deficiency.

Sigursteinn Masson, at the Icelandic branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw), said: “I’m very disappointed. This decision is not based on real market needs and is not in line with public opinion polls on whaling, which doesn’t belong in modern times.”

Iceland and Norway are the only countries in the world to authorise whaling in defiance of the 1986 International Whaling Commission’s moratorium.

Iceland resumed whaling in 2006 on economic grounds and has defied threats of US sanctions to continue to do so. The US did not invite Iceland, one of the largest fishing nations in the north Atlantic, to the Our Ocean conference in 2014.

Japan hunts whales, but claims it does so for scientific research purposes, although a large share of the whale meat ends up being consumed.

Iceland’s whaling season opens on 10 June and the authorities have granted its whalers a quota of 161 fin whales in 2018, compared to 150 in 2017. In addition, Hvalur’s two ships are entitled to hunt 20% of its unused quota from last year, which means it will be allowed to hunt an 30 additional whales.

During its last hunt in 2015, Hvalur killed a record 155 fin whales, which are the planet’s second largest mammal after the blue whale.

The latest records from the Icelandic institute suggest there are about 40,000 in the north Atlantic ocean, up from 25,000 in 2006.

Iceland has only one other whaling company, IP-Utgerd Ltd, which specialises in hunting minke whales. The meat from the whales is served in Icelandic restaurants, but largely to cater to intrigued tourists.

A poll commissioned in October 2017 by the Ifaw suggested that 35.4% of Icelanders supported the fin whale hunt, compared to 42% in 2016.

The two-year suspension of hunting followed the claims from the Japanese authorities that the Icelandic company had not met Japanese health standards.

The company’s attempts to ship 1,700 tonnes of whale meat to Japan via Angola in 2015 had also been hampered by the reluctance of some foreign ports to allow transit of the meat.

Kristjàn Loftsson told the Associated Press that the company was working with Japanese officials on developing methods to fulfil Japanese standards for fresh meat imports.

THE POLITICALLY CORRECT MURDER OF WHALES


Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

One thousand whales will die because of a vote amongst a group of arrogant humans today in Florianopolis, Brazil

The vote was on so called indigenous whaling. In other words a slaughter quota for the Inuit, the Yupik, possibly the Makah, some Greenlanders and a few bogus aboriginal groups in the Caribbean.

Bogus?

Well the Aboriginal people of the Caribbean were the Caribs and they were wiped out by the Spanish colonizers. Thus, the people wanting to kill Humpbacks and pilot whales in Bequi, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and St. Lucia have no indigenous “rights” to slaughter whales at all.

Not that anyone has a right to murder a highly intelligent, self-aware, socially complex sentient being like a whale.

The position of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is that no one should have the “right” to kill whales anywhere for any reason.

Killing whales is plain and simply – murder!

The Japanese, Icelanders, Norwegians and Danes and Faroese are mass murderers and the killing of whales by indigenous cultures is also an act of murder.

I make no apologies for this position. We have been called racist for opposing the murder of whales but we are not motivated by racism. We don’t care what the color or the culture is of the hand that fires the harpoon. There is no justification for the mass murder of whales.

Racism is allowing one group to have special rights to commit murder based on culture and race.

We oppose whaling by the Japanese but also by the white Europeans of Iceland, Denmark and Norway.

Our passion and our loyalty is to the nation of whales and we will not betray them for any cultural justification.

I would like to salute the 7 nations that had the courage to vote against indigenous whaling.

Argentina
Colombia
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Panama
Uruguay

58 nations voted to slaughter whales in a proposal led by the United States.

Brazil, Chile, Gabon, Mexico and Peru abstained.

Australia has little respect for Aboriginals but voted to allow the Inuit on a distant continent to kill whales.

Japan has denied the indigenous Ainu people the right to whale and hunt but they have no problem backing indigenous peoples in the USA, Canada and Greenland to kill whales.

Perhaps the United States believes they can absolve the guilt of genocide by allowing the slaughter of whales so that the whales must die for their colonial sins.

It all reeks of self-serving hypocrisy.

Denmark will now try to convince the world that the slaughter in the Faroes is indigenous.

Will the Makah once again try to kill whales just to prove then have the right to do so? They have no subsistence necessity and nothing in their culture justifies killing a whale with a .50 caliber recoilless rifle.

How many more Humpbacks must die in Greenland to provide fad foodie meals for bored tourists?

How many 100 to 200 year-old Bowheads must die in the Arctic by people using explosive harpoons, motor boats, and sonar?

Sea Shepherd’s position on Aboriginal whaling may be controversial but it is consistent. We have always opposed the murder of whales and we always will, by anyone, for any reason, anywhere.

 

North American whales face potential extinction as warming oceans force them into unsafe territory

North Atlantic whales are facing extinction, experts say, after observing no sign of newborns in the past year.

As the ocean water temperatures have risen, depleting their food supply, the whales have been migrating to cooler waters where new hazards and “nutritional stress” are taking a toll on their population size, a March study out of Cornell University said.

Whales are now venturing farther north into cooler Canadian waters where food is more plentiful, but where boats and fishing gear have proved dangerous.

right whale extinction

In this Wednesday March 28, 2018 photo, a North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod bay off the coast of Plymouth, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

“The fishing gear has not been specially designed to break away when whales are entangled, and there are no acoustic monitoring programs in place to force ships to slow down when whales are present,” said Charles Greene, professor of oceanography at Cornell University.

Researchers said 17 right whales died last year, totaling more than 3.5 percent of the population. Right whales refer to three types of Eubalaena whales – the North Atlantic right whale, North Pacific right whale and the Southern right whale.

“Most of the dead whales that have been examined have exhibited evidence of the blunt trauma associated with ship strikes,” Greene said.

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Right whales eat Calanus finmarchicus, a species of copepods as their main form of nutrition. Scientists have tracked whale reproduction rates in correlation with the amount of available C. finmarchicus. Whale reproduction can vary greatly, Greene said, depending on the abundance of the copepods.

Recently, the researchers grew concerned with the spread of C. finmarchicus away from the Gulf of Maine as water temperatures rose, bringing the whales with them.

These northern waters are not safe for the whales, and the added “nutritional stress” has likely led to the decline in new calves.

“This elevated mortality in the population paints a bleak picture for this highly endangered species’ future,” he said.

How Do We Oppose Murderous Psychopaths?

by Captain Paul Watson:

In 2003, Sea Shepherd brought the issue of the dolphin slaughter to worldwide attention. In October of that year we sent photographer Brooke MacDonald to Taiji. Her pictures appeared on the cover of newspapers around the world and her video was aired on CNN.

Yet the killing continued.

In November two Sea Shepherd volunteers including Sea Shepherd Global Director dove into the Cove, cut the nets and freed 16 Pilot whales. They were both arrested and spent a month in prison and were fined $8,000.

And the killing continued.

In 2009 Louie Psihoyos and Ric O’Barry made a documentary film called The Cove. It won the Academy Award for best documentary film and exposed the horror of Taiji to hundreds of thousands of people.

Yet the killing continued.

Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians were on the ground every year since 2009. Seven years for six months, a total of 42 months on the ground, livestreaming, witnessing, filming, photographing, protesting, monitoring – watching dolphins die and unable to do anything to physically stop it.
During that time we sent in hundreds of volunteers.

After yet after 14 years the only dolphins saved were the 16 freed when Sea Shepherd cut the nets in 2003.

Since 2014 Japan has been denying entry to Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians eliminating 100% of our Cove Guardian leaders and most of the volunteers.

This year, Japan has made Sea Shepherd tactics subject to charges of terrorism. Under the new laws, 2 people with a camera may be charged with terrorism.

This is, to put it bluntly – insane!

These official decisions have convinced me that we are dealing with a psychopathic attitude where every single obstacle is being thrown into the path of anyone who opposes the mass slaughter of dolphins in Taiji.

Since September 1st, Sea Shepherd has received some criticism for not being in Taiji this season. This criticism is quite unfair. How can the Cove Guardians be in Taiji when they can’t even get into Japan? And how can they expect us to send inexperienced volunteers into a position where they will be charged with an act of terrorism just for being there?

Some critics say that the Dolphin Project is there, so why is Sea Shepherd not there?

It is true that Ric O’Barry has been banned from Japan but very few Dolphin Project Cove Monitors have been denied entry – yet. Sea Shepherd is happy that Dolphin Project people can be on the ground but I predict their freedom to do so will soon be greatly diminished.

The Japanese government wants to remove observers.

The thugs in Taiji are psychopaths completely lacking compassion and empathy for the dolphins. The attached image screams the word – psychopath!

The politicians enabling the mass slaughter are also psychopaths lacking empathy and compassion.

Being on the ground in Taiji now is a fruitless endeavor. Years of documentation and live-streaming have not made a difference. The killing continues and the killers become more entrenched in their ruthlessness to the point that their very identity as Japanese is equated with the merciless massacre of dolphins.

It has become painfully evident to me that they simply have a perverse lust for killing. They do it for money AND they do it because they enjoy it. We can see it in their eyes, this lust for inflicting gross suffering and death.

The Dolphin drives are an organized highly ruthless slave trade. Slavery is where the money is, the meat trade is minor by comparison. They could enslave dolphins without killing any and still make a huge profit. The reason they don’t do so is very simple – they like to kill.

What has been going down in Taiji can only be understood as a form of collective insanity. We cannot expect reason, compassion, pity, empathy and kindness will have any influence on the minds of psychopathic individuals and collectively Taiji has become a community of psychopaths backed up by the not surprising psychopathic politicians, passing laws against compassion, empathy, kindness and pity.

Because of this I came to the realization that continuing to be in Taiji, with the increasingly difficult possibilities of even being there, was becoming very unproductive.

We have achieved nothing since 2003, not a single dolphin saved since 2003. Yes, we have raised awareness throughout the world but Japan does not care what the rest of the world thinks or feels.

Sea Shepherd is not abandoning our opposition to the despicable cruelty and killings. We are simply changing strategies and developing new tactics.

We have 14 years of documentation so there is little that continues to happen that we have not already captured on film. We need to get these images out to the public – in Japan.

We need to develop a Japanese website and Japanese social media. We need to make the Japanese people at least as aware as the rest of the world. We need to develop economic strategies aimed at Japan with a special focus on the Olympics in 2020. We need to research legal options.

Unfortunately we’ve done all that we practically and strategically can accomplish on the ground in Taiji.

We are refocusing and planning for a new strategy.

The Cove Guardians were heroic, steadfast and I appreciate the efforts of each and every person who spent time on the ground there. They suffered harassment and abuse including numerous abuses from the police and fishermen and most importantly they had to endure the trauma of witnessing the monstrous acts of cruelty and murder.

They did all that could have been done within the context of having to do so within Japanese territory under the ever present watch of the police and rejection from border guards.

When I first organized the Cove Guardians I felt confident that it could have success but I did not take into account the one factor that makes it difficult to overcome such a heartless behavior and makes it impossible to deal with the situation in any meaningful way.

That factor is insanity. We can’t reason or appeal to the heart of a Psychopath because we have been looking for something that does not exist – their heart!

We must develop a new and effective approach.

Uncover Photo

Whales reached huge size only recently

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40032372

WhaleImage copyrightSILVERBACK FILMS/BBC
Image captionBeing big means they can maximise the opportunities where they exist

Blue whales are the biggest animals that have ever existed on Earth but they only recently* got that way.

This is the extraordinary finding from a new study that examined the fossil record of baleens – the group of filter feeders to which the blues belong.

These animals were relatively small for most of their evolutionary existence and only became the behemoths we know today in the past three million years.

That is when the climate likely turned the oceans into a “food heaven”.

Favoured prey – such as krill, small crustaceans – suddenly became super-concentrated in places, allowing the baleens with their specialised feeding mechanism to pig-out and evolve colossal forms.

“The blue whales, the fins and bowheads, and the right whales – they are among the most massive vertebrates to have ever lived,” explained Nick Pyenson from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, US.

“Some of the dinosaurs were longer, but these big whales even outweighed the largest dinosaurs. And isn’t that surprising? People kind of think of gigantism as being a fact of the geologic past. But here we are, living in the time of giants on Planet Earth,” he told BBC News.

*Whales have been around for about 50 million years – a blink of the eye in the 4.6-billion-year history of the Earth.

Dr Pyenson is publishing the new research – conducted with Graham Slater from the University of Chicago and Jeremy Goldbogen from Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station – in a journal of the Royal Society called Proceedings B.

It is based on a deep analysis of the Smithsonian’s extensive collection of cetacean bones, and in particular of whale skulls which are a good indicator of overall body size.

The team estimated the lengths of 63 extinct species, including some of the very earliest baleens that swam in the oceans more than 30 million years ago. And combined with data on modern whales, this investigation was then able to establish the evolutionary relationships between whales of different sizes.

What emerges from the research is a picture showing not only that gigantism is a recent phenomenon but that this bigness arises independently in the different baleen lineages.

The smaller whale species that had previously persisted start to go extinct within the last three million years, right at the same time as the giants begin to appear.

Lunge feedingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe baleen plates that hang from the upper-jaw filter prey from a gulp of seawater

It all points to a major shift in the environment and the team suggests the best explanation is the onset of ice ages at the end of the warm Pliocene Epoch, the beginning of the Pleistocene.

The existence of major ice sheets would have restructured the oceans, changing the way water and nutrients were distributed.

“This period sees some dramatic changes, including the closure of the Panamanian isthmus, shutting off connection between the Atlantic and Pacific,” explained Dr Slater.

“Ice sheets in the north develop a lot of cold water that sinks and is then transported around the globe. And what you get are intense upwellings that bring that nutrient-rich cold water back to the surface. That allows algae to go crazy and that allows krill to feed and to form really dense aggregations.”

It is not the abundance of prey per se that favours large baleens, but rather the prey’s patchy, concentrated nature. And with their filter-feeding system of eating, the big whales are able to take maximum advantage.

“They can travel from one feeding zone to the next very efficiently because their big size means their ‘miles per gallon’, their MPG, is very high. And they seem to know precisely the right time to turn up at these feeding grounds,” Dr Slater added.

WhaleImage copyrightSILVERBACK FILMS/BBC
Image captionBlue whales can reach over 30m in length, although this is rarely seen nowadays

Two points are worth noting. First, commercial whaling in the last century decimated baleen populations and very probably removed most, if not all, of the ultra-giants out there. Few blues now exceed the 30m lengths that were often recorded at processing factories.

Thanks to the international moratorium on whaling, the true giants could yet return. But this raises the second issue: the changing climate.

If the experts are right, we are heading back towards the Pliocene. Increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere could well see global temperatures in the next century that are three or four degrees warmer than they are today. This would almost certainly trigger further ocean changes.

“We’re playing with the dials on ‘Spaceship Earth’,” commented Dr Pyenson.

“We don’t know how things are going turn out, especially for these food resources which may or may not be persistent in space and time. There are some baleens that we think might be more flexible. Gray whales, for example, appear to have a very broad feeding range; blue whales not so much – they really need their krill.”

HumpbackImage copyrightMARIA TERESA LARA
Image captionWhat will happen to the oceans if the global climate returns to the Pliocene?

Richard Sabin is the curator of marine mammals at London’s Natural History Museum.

He called the research “compelling and important” and also highlighted the ecological knife-edge on which some of these animals must live: “There are 90 or so cetacean species. They’re a very diverse group and some of them are very specialised.

“So, you have creatures like the river dolphins that use echo-location to find their prey and the blue whales that are very specialised feeders with their krill. These animals have evolved within systems that they now depend on remaining stable.”

London’s NHM is about to make its blue whale skeleton the star attraction of a remodelled entrance hall.

The near-4.5-tonne specimen has been hung from the ceiling in a lunge-feeding pose, mouth open.

The display is under wraps for the moment, but a big unveiling is promised in the next few weeks.

“The visualisations that we released give you an idea, but they don’t really do it justice. She looks spectacular. You get so many different perspectives from the different angles, and you get a real sense not just of her size but of her dynamism as well.”

London’s Natural History Museum will also stage a new exhibition on whales to coincide with the unveiling.

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.

Mass Die-Off of Whales in Atlantic Is Being Investigated

Photo

Workers inspecting a dead humpback whale that washed up on Rockaway Beach in Queens this month.CreditSpencer Platt/Getty Images

Humpback whales have been dying in extraordinary numbers along the Eastern Seaboard since the beginning of last year. Marine biologists have a term for it — an “unusual mortality event” — but they have no firm idea why it is happening.

Forty-one whales have died in the past 15 months along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Maine. In a news conference on Thursday, officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries said that they had not identified the underlying reason for the mass death, but that 10 of the whales are known to have been killed by collisions with ships.

The agency is starting a broad inquiry into the deaths.

These whales “have evidence of blunt force trauma, or large propeller cuts,” said Deborah Fauquier, a veterinary medical officer at the agency’s Office of Protected Resources. These collisions with ships were “acute events,” Dr. Fauquier said, and were being treated as the “proximate cause of death.”

Dr. Fauquier said that the number of whale strandings was “alarming,” and that she hoped the investigation might give a sense of what kind of threat this presents to this population of humpback whales and those around the world.

COn average, eight humpback whales are stranded each year from Maine to Virginia, and fewer than two are hit by ships, according to data from NOAA.

An unusual mortality event is a specific designation under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and is defined as “a stranding that is unexpected, involves a significant die-off of any marine mammal population, and demands immediate response.”

Whale or other marine mammal die-offs are often poorly understood by scientists, and this case is no exception. Officials from NOAA Fisheries could not explain why the animals were coming into greater contact with vessels, or if there were any human-caused or climate-related disturbances that had changed their behavior.

Gregory Silber, marine resources manager in the agency’s Office of Protected Resources, said that there had not been any increase in ship traffic in the region, and that the whales might be following their prey — they mostly eat krill and small fish — to areas where there could be more shipping.

Ten whales other than those killed by ships have been examined, but officials have not yet determined the cause of death. There is no indication that they were killed by disease.

Humpback whales — which can be as long as 60 feet, weigh as much as 40 tons and can live for 50 years — are found in all of the world’s oceans. There are 14 distinct population segments — groups that follow certain migration and breeding patterns — of humpback whales, some of which are classified as endangered or threatened. The population along the Atlantic coast, which winters in the Caribbean and summers in the North Atlantic or Arctic regions, is not now considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Around the world, there are an estimated 30,000 to 40,000 humpback whales, about a third of its original population. The Atlantic population is around 10,000.

Scientists have suggested that some whale deaths could be a result of marine noise, often a result of military activity, offshore drilling or exploration, which can disorient the animals and send them in the wrong direction, possibly toward beaches where they get stuck instead of into the deeper ocean. Mr. Silber, the NOAA manager, said he was not aware of a connection between ocean noise and these strandings.

A recent study has shown that dolphins, when escaping predators or the source of marine noise, might shoot up from a dive more quickly than they otherwise would, switching from slow, deliberate strokes to faster, longer ones, which can cause them to use double the energy they normally do, and exhaust them.

The last major mass casualty event for marine mammals in this part of the world took place from 2013 to 2015, when a resurgence of the morbillivirus killed thousands of bottlenose dolphins on the Eastern Seaboard.

Among humpback whales, there was an unusual mortality event in 2006, following others in 2005, which involved other large whales, and 2003, which was primarily humpback whales. In each investigation, the cause was undetermined, officials said.

NOAA officials said members of the public looking to help could report stranded or dead floating whales to numbers listed on their website.

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

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/this-could-explain-all-those-strange-happenings-in-alaska%e2%80%99s-waters/ar-BBpA0Cf?ocid=spartanntp

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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Wikipedia

Learn more about algae blooms

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.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/this-could-explain-all-those-strange-happenings-in-alaska%e2%80%99s-waters/ar-BBpA0Cf?ocid=spartanntp

The ghost fishing gear crisis

read:http://www.worldanimalprotection.us.org/our-work/animals-wild/sea-change-campaign-tackling-ghost-fishing-gear?gclid=CJe3oZOm-soCFQoNaQodwj4PiA

Abandoned, lost and discarded nets, lines and traps are one of the biggest threats to our sea life. A staggering 640,000 tons of gear is left in our oceans each year. That gear traps, injures, mutilates and kills hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sharks, seals, turtles and birds annually. So, through our Sea Change campaign, we’re aiming to save one million animals by 2018.

By bringing together governments, businesses and fishing organizations, we can protect sea life and move towards a future free from the ghost fishing gear threat

Ghost fishing gear: our work

We’re working in three ways to protect animals from ghost fishing gear. We:

  • Bring together partners to stop gear being abandoned
  • Support new ways to remove ghost gear from the seas
  • Help to replicate successful local sea animal rescue efforts on a global scale.

Global Ghost Gear initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative is a big part of our Sea Change campaign. By collaborating with a range of partners, we’re working to understand just how bad the problem of ghost fishing gear is – and to respond with solutions that work for animals and people. The seafood industry spends millions each year untangling nets from propellers, for example, so we’re developing solutions that protect animals and benefit businesses too.

Resources

Download the following resources to learn how ghost gear is endangering our sea life:

David Burdick / Marine Photobank

Ghost Gear Dodge

How to play Ghost Gear Dodge:

1. Visit ghostgear.worldanimalprotection.org and play on your computer or your mobile phone
2. Click/tap to swim up & release to swim down to avoid getting caught in ghost gear
3. Sign-up at the end of the game to learn more about Sea Change work happening locally and share the game with your family and friends to help build the movement

Anonymous collective hackers bring down Iceland sites in whaling protest

Image

Activist hackers from the Anonymous collective have claimed responsibility for bringing down five government websites in Iceland in a protest against whale-hunting by the North Atlantic nation.

The sites, which included the prime minister’s official website and that of the environment and interior ministries, went offline on Friday and remained down until about midday on Saturday.

In an anti-whaling video posted on social media, activists called for people to hack websites linked to Iceland to protest persistent commercial hunting despite an international moratorium.

On a new Twitter account devoted to the campaign, screenshots showing the sites down were published late on Friday by activists who said they belonged to the loose Anonymous collective. The government made no comment about the outage.

Iceland is a member of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), an inter-governmental body which imposed a ban on all commercial whaling from 1986. The moratorium remains in place, but both Iceland and Norway continue to hunt whales.

Iceland has come under fire for whaling for decades, including in the 1970s and 1980s when activists from Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society tried to disrupt annual hunts using boats or by sabotaging hunting stations.

Isolated in the North Atlantic with only Greenland as its close neighbor, Iceland has relied on fishing and whaling as a key part of its economy. Icelanders argue whales reduce the stocks of the fish they hunt for.

Since its devastating financial meltdown in 2008 and a sharp currency devaluation, however, tourism has boomed and whale tours are increasingly popular.

(Reporting by Ragnhildur Sigurðardóttir in Reykjavik and Sabina Zawadzki in Copenhagen; Editing by Helen Popper)

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