The Blackfish Effect Continues: Captive Whales and Dolphins Have an Ally in Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson

In another case of ‘when you know better, you do better’, the creative genius who brought us Virgin Airlines as well as over a hundred other ventures has now taken a stand on cetacean issues – when Whale and Dolphin Conservation recently mounted a campaign asking tour companies not to book with amusement parks such as SeaWorld, Virgin Airlines CEO Richard Branson took note. His tour company, Virgin Holidays, will no longer book with any organization that won’t guarantee that they won’t display dolphins and whales that are taken from the wild. (Please see below).

Lolita's violent capture - she is now displayed at the Miami SeaQuarium.
Lolita’s violent capture – she is now displayed at the Miami SeaQuarium.

That means any place that accepts dolphins from the Taiji dolphin drives won’t get his business, nor will any park or aquarium that takes the orcas, belugas, false killer whales, pilot whales, and dolphins caught around the world. Countries such as Cuba, Honduras, Russia, Japan, and the Solomon Islands openly catch dolphins and whales for the display trade, and others such as Mexico are lax in allowing dolphin brokers to get “scientific research” permits for capture.
Where Morgan will have to live (Loro Parque, Spain).
The wild orca “Morgan” was sent from the Netherlands to Loro Parque, Spain where SeaWorld warehouses  orcas. In six weeks the courts will decide if she can be returned to the wild.

Branson’s stance will affect large corporate ventures such as SeaWorld, privately owned parks such as Loro Parque in the Canary Islands, and every mom and pop ‘swim-with-dolphins’ company world-wide. While other tour companies may still book with those facilities, and while Virgin Holidays probably does not have arrangements with many of the captive dolphin and whale based businesses, Branson’s renowned social media presence will cause a ripple through the industry.
This decision by Branson shows the character of the man – whatever income is lost by his choice will be more than offset by the satisfaction of living according to his principles. Still, as a businessman losing money is unpleasant, no matter how rich and successful you are.
So, please fly Virgin Airlines if you have a choice, and book your vacations through Virgin Holidays. Follow him on Twitter @richardbranson , and leave comments on his blog.
Your opinion is important – he is still studying the issue of captivity in general, and may be open to not booking with any amusement park or aquarium at all where cetaceans are displayed, regardless of whether the animals are wild caught. His study strategy is listed below.

From Branson’s blog:

I’ve instructed Virgin Holidays not to deal with any organisation[s] that do not pledge that they will never again take cetaceans from the sea. We hope other holiday companies will follow suit. 

Virgin Holidays has played a leading role on the issue of animal welfare in the travel industry for many years, and helped to draft the first ever set of global guidelines to ensure minimum standards are met. This is a complex subject that we’re committed to fully understanding.
We expect all of the tourism facilities we work with to meet the required local and international welfare standards for the animals in their care. As part of an ongoing audit process, any supplier found not to be meeting those requirements is reviewed and if necessary, the relationship ended.
We have begun an engagement process that will gather a broad spectrum of opinion from the scientific community, commercial partners, other travel companies, the general public, conservation organisations and our industry as we improve our knowledge of the various elements of this debate, and work towards a long term vision of captive cetaceans in tourism in the future.

The engagement process will include, but not be limited to, discussion on the following points:

  • The role of captive cetaceans for education and raising awareness.
  • The issue of training captive cetaceans for entertainment.
  • The welfare of captive cetaceans, including the space given to them.
  • The breeding of cetaceans in captivity.
  • The reintroduction of captive cetaceans into the wild.

We have put a six month timeline on this engagement process. I look forward to hearing more of your views on the subject too.

Update: Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s response to Branson’s statement can be found on their website.

Dolphins Who Swim Near Malibu, California, Have Been Granted Safe Passage as a Basic Right

Media Release:  Malibu Proclamation Says Dolphins Deserve Rights to Freedom and Life
photo-62 malibu proclamation dolphin captivity
“February 24, 2014 was a historic day in the movement to gain basic rights for dolphins and whales. A proclamation requesting protection for cetaceans and including a bold statement that dolphins should have the right to their own lives was presented to the Malibu City Council and was signed by Mayor Joan House.
The proclamation, initiated by council member Dr. Laura Rosenthal, supports the free and safe passage of all whales and dolphins in the city’s coastal waters and “encourages citizens of the world to do all within their power to protect them and preserve the oceans”.
Says Dr. Rosenthal about her progressive initiative: “The purpose of this proclamation is not only to support the ideas therein, but to get people thinking about the issues in a deeper and more meaningful way and thus change behavior.”
The proclamation included a statement about cetacean rights. “Whereas, whales and dolphins are known to be highly intelligent and emotional creatures… and therefore deserve the right to their own freedom and lives”.
This is the first officially recognized governmental statement within the United States indicating that dolphins, or any nonhuman animal for that matter, should be given the right to it’s own life and freedom.

Dolphins surfing near Malibu, California (photo by Lauren di Scipio).
Dolphins surfing near Malibu, California (photo by Lauren di Scipio).

“We wanted this statement included in the proclamation because it draws attention to the fact that dolphins currently do NOT have the right to their own lives,” says Laura Bridgeman of the International Marine Mammal Project. “I think most people can agree that dolphins deserve this right, but many remain unaware that dolphins are considered legal property. This needs to change.”
The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits killing and capture of dolphins and whales, but has numerous loopholes, allowing, for example, accidental entanglement of dolphins in fishing gear and capture of dolphins for aquariums.
Steven Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, applauded Rosenthal’s effort. “This Proclamation is the latest laudable addition to a growing worldwide catalogue of governments and their subdivisions that are recognizing the extraordinary cognitive abilities of cetaceans that scientists have carefully documented and demanding their fundamental rights to bodily liberty.”
Dolphins are now considered non-human persons in India. (Photo credit capgd 2010).
Dolphins are now considered non-human persons in India. (Photo credit CAPGD 2010).

The proclamation is among other international efforts to gain basic rights for dolphins. In 2013, India banned dolphin captivity and declared that dolphins should be considered nonhuman persons, and just last month Romanian MP Remus Cernea drafted a law to designate nonhuman personhood status for dolphins in that country.
It is hoped that other city councils will create similar proclamations.”
By Laura Bridgeman, International Marine Mammal Project.

Contact Laura Bridgeman

Young Orca L-112 Was Killed by Blunt Force Trauma

Little Victoria, L-112, before she was killed.
Little Victoria, L-112, before she was killed.

UPDATE: The complete report can be found here, and states:
“These results do not conflict with gross
observations and the proposed cause of acute or peracute death by blunt force trauma;
however, blast- or seismic-related injuries cannot be entirely discounted. We
acknowledge that post-mortem decomposition may have obscured some lesions and
hindered mass-spectroscopy gas analysis.”
Please go to the International Dolphin and Whale Stranding Network for continued updates.
We will have to wait for the details of the necropsy, but there is nothing in this information to absolve the Navy from blame, since the fact that the young whale was hit  implies that she may not have been able to hear an approaching vessel, and and also the information doesn’t rule out trauma from a blast or explosion that may have occurred during military exercises.
Here is the information as released by AP:

SEATTLE (AP) – Two years after a 3-year-old endangered orca washed ashore in southwest Washington, investigators have concluded that the whale was hit, struck or rammed in the head and neck. But they couldn’t determine the source of that blow.
In a report released Tuesday, the team of biologists and veterinarians ruled out possible sources of the blunt trauma, including sonar and small underwater explosive activity in Canadian waters off Vancouver Island.
The death investigation found that the orca known as L-112 likely died miles south of there, somewhere between north and central Oregon.
The report by the Northwest Marine Mammal Stranding Network also notes that no U.S. naval training activities involving sonar or explosives were conducted in the area during the time of the whale’s death in early February 2012.
Some whale advocates had raised suspicions that the orca’s injuries were linked to an underwater explosion or military training activity at sea.

Following her death, Victoria washed up on an Oregon beach.
Following her death, Victoria washed up on a Oregon beach.

Diver Dragged Underwater by Whale in New Zealand – What Species?

While the traumatized free diver claims that an orca swam over, grabbed a catch bag that was tied to his wrist, and dragged him underwater until he almost ran out of breath, it is highly unlikely that this was actually an orca.  For starters, orcas are unknown to attack humans in the wild, nor would they likely be interested in stealing a catch bag since the contents (which included crayfish) are not likely to be part of their diet.
It sounds much more like the work of a pilot whale, a species who have been known to drag humans underwater, always returning them to the surface just in time before drowning can occur. This appears to be how the whales send people a message when they feel harassed, and people don’t understand the warnings given by the whales.

In May 1992 a swimmer entered waters south off Hawaii and swam with a group of short-finned pilot whales. During the encounter one whale dramatically changed its behavior and finally attacked the swimmer by opening its mouth and grabbing the swimmer’s inner left thigh. Seconds later the human swimmer was drowned to 40 feet below the surface. Finally, the swimmer was brought back to the water surface. The scenario was filmed underwater and can be viewed on YouTube (…here…).The woman survived this life-threatening attack.  (From PilotWhales.org.)

Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)
Short finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Pilot whales can be confused with orcas, they are both commonly called ‘blackfish’, and both occupy New Zealand waters.
In any case, this is such an odd occurrence that it may turn out to be an incomplete story.  Like orcas, pilot whales are not known to randomly approach human divers and drag them underwater when the people are minding their own business.
Quoted below is part of the article in which the diver expressed that he assumed it was and orca, although he never saw it because of bubbles that obscured his vision:

Diver survives death spiral in whale attack
By Amy Maas 5:30 AM Sunday Feb 23, 2014

Levi Gavin says the orca dragged him beneath the water for more than 40 seconds before he broke free. Photo / Doug Sherring

Levi Gavin says the orca dragged him beneath the water for more than 40 seconds before he broke free. Photo / Doug Sherring

A free diver who was dragged to the depths of the ocean by a killer whale has told how he got down to his “last breath” during the terrifying ordeal.
Levi Gavin, 23, was collecting kina and crayfish at Horahora Estuary, 30km east of Whangarei on February 10, when an orca grabbed a catch bag attached to his right arm.
It dragged him beneath the water for more than 40 seconds before a rope connecting him to the bag came undone and he was able to free himself from the death spiral. Remarkably, he escaped injury.
In an exclusive interview, the keen fisherman told how he had tried to relax as he was being dragged deeper and deeper by the giant sea creature.
“As soon as it got me under water, my goggles came off and kept flapping on my face and it just kept going,” he told the Herald on Sunday.

“I went to go open my eyes but all I could see was little white bubbles so I just closed my eyes and tried not to use my energy because then I use up my breath.

“I got to my last breath. I couldn’t really think at the time.”
Gavin popped off his weight belt and floated to the surface before realising his arm was “dead” and he was unable to swim.
“My cousin was about 30m from me and I could hear his flippers from a mile away trying to get out to me because he saw me pop up.

Exxon Mobil CEO Sues to Keep Fracking Project Away From His Property, But Supports Fracking Elsewhere

Exxon Mobil, the company who brought us the disastrous  Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska (which they have yet to pay for), and more recently the tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, were also found to be responsible for the death of 100 melon-headed whales in Madagascar during offshore oil exploration. The company continues to explore for petroleum resources worldwide, often against the wishes of local communities such as the current conflict in South Africa.
1066801_884251 humpback dolphin south africa“Durban environmental activists have vehemently rejected an application by multi-national energy giant ExxonMobil to explore for oil and gas offshore along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, citing the company’s poor environmental track record as a major concern.” (4 Traders)
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is opposed by many environmental groups because the process is associated with degradation of local water quality and health concerns.  The process is described in this brief video:

But apparently more important than the environment, human rights, and ocean life to the CEO of Exxon Mobil, Rex Tillerson, is the view from his multi-million dollar property. For that, he demands to be an exception from the consequences of his company’s activities and somewhat bizarrely and hypocritically has joined in a lawsuit to block the construction of a water tower associated with fracking near his ranch.

In shale regions, less wealthy residents have protested fracking development for impacts more consequential than noise, including water contamination and cancer risk. Exxon’s oil and gas operations and the resulting spills not only sinks property values, but the spills have leveled homes and destroyed regions.
Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.
The Wall Street Journal reports the tower would supply water to a nearby fracking site, and the plaintiffs argue the project would cause too much noise and traffic from hauling the water from the tower to the drilling site. The water tower, owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation, “will sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” the suit says.
Exxon, which pays Tillerson a total $40.3 million, is staying out of the legal tangle. A spokesperson told the WSJ it “has no involvement in the legal matter.” (Think Progress).

Not in his backyard!  Exxon  Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is suing to keep fracking project away from his ranch.
Not in his backyard – Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is suing to keep fracking project away from his ranch, but is paid well to ensure that these projects succeed elsewhere.

Navy to Hold Public Meetings On Their Impact on Ocean Life, Starting February 26th, 2014

When giant squid were found dead off Spain about a decade ago, scientists suspected that powerful sound pulses from ships had harmed the animals. Now the evidence may be in. A new study says low-frequency sounds from human activities can affect squid and other cephalopods, not just whales and other marine mammals, which have long been thought to be vulnerable to such pulses.
When giant squid were found dead off Spain about a decade ago, scientists suspected that powerful sound pulses from ships had harmed the animals. Now the evidence may be in. A new study says low-frequency sounds from human activities can affect squid and other cephalopods, not just whales and other marine mammals, which have long been thought to be vulnerable to such pulses.

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 18, 2014
NAVY TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS FOR THE NORTHWEST TRAINING AND TESTING DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT/ OVERSEAS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
SILVERDALE, Wash. – The U.S. Navy invites the public to attend public meetings for the Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS). The Navy has prepared the Draft EIS/OEIS to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of military readiness training and testing activities conducted primarily within existing range complexes, operating areas and testing ranges in the NWTT Study Area. The Navy invites you to comment on the NWTT Draft EIS/OEIS.
Public Meetings
Eight public meetings will be held to inform the public about the Navy’s Proposed Action and findings in the Draft EIS/OEIS, and solicit public comments on the environmental analysis. The public meetings will include an open house information session starting at 5 p.m. During this time, Navy representatives will provide information and answer questions about the Proposed Action and Draft EIS/OEIS. A short presentation by the Navy will begin at 6:30 p.m. Comments will be accepted throughout the public meeting. The public meetings will be held at the following locations and times:
Open House Information Sessions: 5-8 p.m.
Navy Presentation: 6:30 p.m.
Washington:     Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014
Oak Harbor High School
Student Union Building
1 Wildcat Way
Oak Harbor, WA
Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
Cascade High School Student Commons
801 E. Casino Road
Everett, WA
Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
North Kitsap High School Commons
1780 NE Hostmark St.
Poulsbo, WA
Oregon: Monday, March 3, 2014
Astoria High School Student Commons
1001 W. Marine Drive
Astoria, OR
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Isaac Newton Magnet School Gym
825 NE 7th St.
Newport, OR
California:     Thursday, March 6, 2014
Red Lion Hotel Redwood Ballroom
1929 4th St.
Eureka, CA
Friday, March 7, 2014
Redwood Coast Senior Center West Room
490 N. Harold St.
Fort Bragg, CA
Alaska:         Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Southeast Alaska Discovery Center Lobby
50 Main St.
Ketchikan, AK
Individuals requiring reasonable accommodations, please contact Liane Nakahara, Navy Region Northwest Public Affairs Specialist, at 360-396-1630 or liane.nakahara [at] navy.mil.
Availability of Draft EIS/OEIS and Public Comment Period:
The Navy is seeking public input on the Proposed Action and alternatives, and the accuracy and adequacy of the Draft EIS/OEIS. The Draft EIS/OEIS is available for public review online at www.NWTTEIS.com and at the following locations:
Washington:
. Everett Main Library
. Gig Harbor Library
. Jefferson County Library – Port Hadlock
. Kitsap Regional Library – Poulsbo
. Kitsap Regional Library – Sylvan Way (Bremerton)
. Oak Harbor Public Library
. Port Angeles Main Library
. Port Townsend Public Library
. Timberland Regional Library  – Aberdeen
.Timberland Regional Library – Hoquiam
Oregon:
. Astoria Public Library
. Driftwood Public Library
. Newport Public Library
. Tillamook Main Library
Northern California:
. Fort Bragg Branch Library
. Humboldt County Public Library,
Arcata Main Library
. Humboldt County Public Library,
Eureka Main Library
Southeastern Alaska:
. Juneau Public Library,
Downtown Branch
. Ketchikan Public Library
The Navy is accepting comments throughout the 60-day public comment period, from Jan. 24, 2014, to March 25, 2014. All comments must be postmarked or received online by March 25, 2014, for consideration in the Final EIS/OEIS. Written comments may be submitted via the project website at www.NWTTEIS.com, in person at the public meetings or by mail to:
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest
Attention: Ms. Kimberly Kler – NWTT EIS/OEIS Project Manager
1101 Tautog Circle, Suite 203
Silverdale, WA 98315-1101
Proposed Action
The Navy proposes to conduct training and testing activities, to include the use of active sonar and explosives, within the NWTT Study Area. The Proposed Action also includes pierside sonar maintenance and testing within the NWTT Study Area.
The purpose of the Proposed Action is to ensure that the Navy accomplishes its mission to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. This mission is achieved in part by training and testing within the NWTT Study Area. The NWTT EIS/OEIS also supports the renewal of federal regulatory permits and authorizations for current training and testing activities and future activities requiring environmental analysis.
The NWTT Study Area is composed of Navy training and testing range complexes, operating areas, testing facilities, and select Navy pierside locations in the Pacific Northwest.  Aircraft training and testing activities that take place on or within established Navy airfields at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. or Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman, Ore. are not included in this NWTT EIS/OEIS.
Visit the project website at www.NWTTEIS.com to download the Draft EIS/OEIS, view a map of the NWTT Study Area, learn more about the project and submit comments online.
-USN-

What If SeaWorld Held Auditions and No One Came? The ‘Blackfish Effect’ Continues

SeaWorld is having auditions for these and other "educational" characters, but no one seems interested.
SeaWorld is having auditions for these and other “educational” characters, but no one seems interested.

It is not just musicians who are turning their backs on SeaWorld these days. (Trace Adkins, Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, Heart, Barenaked Ladies, Martina McBride, 38 Special, the Beach Boys, and Pat Benedar have all cancelled planned performances there and Joan Jett has lodged a complaint that her music is played at their Shamu shows.) As is the case with musicians, SeaWorld seems to be having trouble finding actors willing to don cartoonish costumes and promote the circus-like aspects of the amusement park as well.
They have repeatedly posted on the message board for an actor’s site, Broadway World and seem to be met with derision each time. Most of the actors are firmly against the idea of being involved with SeaWorld, having seen the film Blackfish. As a group they are very well informed, and did their own research before reaching their conclusions.

Auditions for Performers – SeaWorld
Posted: 2/17/14 at 10:48am
Auditions for 2014 SeaWorld Performers will be held:
Friday February 21, 2014
At SeaWorld Human Resources Training Center 2
10500 Sea World Dr., San Antonio, TX 78251

Visit seaworld auditions for more information.

Seeking: Musicians including Guitar Playing Singers, Steel Drum Band Players, Mimes, Dancers, Costumed Characters, Actors, Scare Squad Actors, Variety Artists. All talents welcome.

Below are some of the replies to the ad posted on the Broadway World message board, and if these are anything to go by, SeaWorld is going to have to stretch to find employees in many other capacities as well:
 

Posted: 1/6/14 at 10:17am

“Exactly. I have a hard time wrapping my head around anyone who would want to say they work or perform at Sea World now. Sea World has such a negative connotation in the public’s eye.”

 

Posted: 1/6/14 at 11:43am
“Bigger question: Why is a major casting office trolling BWW for performers?
Can’t Paul rustle up some “showcase cockroaches” for his Sea World needs?”

 
Posted: 2/8/14 at 03:14pm

SeaWorld is over, dude.
Love,
Willie Nelson & Heart

 
shamu5 sw talent search

Posted: 2/17/14 at 11:35am
“Oh, give it up”.
Posted: 2/17/14 at 11:50am
“Did somebody say Blackfish?”
Posted: 2/17/14 at 12:25pm
“Paul–or Paul’s intern–get your pimping [a**] outta here.”
Posted: 2/17/14 at 01:51pm
“Just going to copy&paste more or less what I said the last time (and the time before that) this guy advertised Seaworld.”

http://www.orcahome.de/lifeexpectancy.htm
“Of the 158 captive killer whales that have died, more than 2/3 didn’t make it passed 10 years in captivity. Less than 30 orcas survived more than 20 years in captivity. Average time in captivity has improved steadily over the decades, but is still very low.” The average lifespan of a wild orca ranges from 30 to 90 years old.
Then again when you’re feeding questionable quality frozen fish to animals who normally hunt live fish or (in the case of transients) do not eat fish, then have to stuff them with vitamins and gelatin to attempt to give them nutrition and hydration, on top of keeping them in incredibly small, bare tanks that keep them constantly exposed to blazing sun (not to mention at least two whales who have died from West Nile Virus, thanks to Florida mosquitos), all without the normal physical activity and socialization they would achieve in the wild except when they are forced to perform amidst blaring music and noises (just to name a few things)… yeah, I would imagine their life expectancy in captivity is drastically reduced.
Seaworld slaps a fake smile on an industry that is abusive to humans and animals. At least 3 trainer deaths, at least one trainer permanently paralyzed, and countless injuries to trainers, volunteers and other people they allow to interact with the whales. 158 dead whales, almost all well below their normal life expectancy, and all forced into a life that is not even a fraction of what they deserve and would lead in the wild.

“Seaworld is deplorable.”
Posted: 2/17/14 at 03:20pm
“I’d rather audition for regional production of Cats. Seriously.”

And what does SeaWorld teach about whales and dolphins?
And what does SeaWorld teach about whales and dolphins?

Posted: 2/17/14 at 03:44pm
“Hey Paul! How about you live in a bathtub for the rest of your life? Yeah, I’m sure you’d be pretty pissed off too. F Seaworld.”
Posted: 2/17/14 at 04:29pm
“Kidnapping and horrible living conditions of whales aside, who doesn’t want to work at a place that just got investigated by OSHA?”
 

Lost Orca Whale Needs Time and Food, Will Norway Help?

Center for Whale Research
Center for Whale Research

UPDATE! Norway cares, and in a big way! Please check the International Dolphin and Whale Stranding Network for further updates.

This calf was not sighted today; it may have headed else where or out to sea – or may have died. It is only about 15 days old!
Reposting: My name is Eve Jourdain, I am a biologist specialized in Orcas and currently in Andenes, North of Norway running a whale-watching season as a guide. You may know that a couple of days ago, a baby orca was found in Alsvag, Oksnes, alone. I’ve been yesterday to check it out, and as an orca biologist, I would like to share with you what I know from the situation. I saw this calf for the first time on Sunday at 2pm. The calf is roughly 15 days old and not in a good shape. As you can see on the pictures, it has a really thin layer of blubber, and to me, it seems very skinny. It has been spotted for the first time by locals 5 days ago and some people tried to feed it with fish. Its body needs milk of course, but at least some calories! It is an emergency now and its state was really critical. After getting home last night, I got in touch with the Norwegian Fisheries Department, asking for a permission, at least to try to help this orca. The plan was then to wait for the morning, to find it again, and to invite the authorities and decide about a potential rescue plan with their permission. Unfortunately, even after long hours at sea this morning looking for this calf, we didn’t find it. Some people from the North Atlantic Society are still on the spot, looking. I think I built a strong network of contacts (authorities + vet + scientists) here last night, and we are able to organize something to help this orca if we find it again. The plan has to be discussed if needed, but it would probably be to provide intense cares and feeding as a first step. To do it, we need a small sea pen. Indeed, put this orca in a tank/aquarium is not even an option!! Norway doesn’t want to see “Morgan’s case” happening again!
I will let you know if I have anything new.
I have attached some pictures I took yesterday.
Have a nice day.
Cheers,
Eve Jourdain

Another young orca has been separated from its family and faces an uncertain future in the frigid northern Norwegian fjords.  In April last year a similarly isolated young orca in Norway was shot and killed within a day of its discovery, before any attempts to rescue and possibly find its natal pod could be made – hopefully the present situation will resolve in a better outcome, although this young whale’s prospects are not good at the moment.
Yet if you consider the gift that the lost whale Luna gave to us, you can’t help but hope that we keep trying to help, given that we are so often the cause of these separations in the first, given the amount of noise we create in the ocean environment, and the loss of fishery stocks.

In this case at least, Norway whale expert Tiu Similä   was consulted and offered her opinion.  “This orca-[calf] in Alsvåg can not fend for [itself]. As it has been without his [pod] at least five days now, it probably pretty hungry and probably stressed.The reason why it nearly stranded by Instøya was enough that there was a shallow sand beach that makes echolocation, especially for one inexperienced animals difficult.”

Photo by Kristoffer Larsen
Photo by Kristoffer Larsen

As an emergency measure right now can be said that offer this young orca fish.But the ethical dilemma is what to do next. I am of the opinion that these animals should live with the family flock. Killer whales (both males and females) is in the herd are born throughout life (the mating between the flocks), it may say little of the significance of the pack. If your kid is fed, so it can survive, but you may ask what kind of life it’s going to get.
To get it returned to his family should happen as soon as possible, but is probably not practically feasible. First, one does not know the family relationship and, secondly, the killer whale now heading south to the herring spawn. To get this kid transported there and get it reunited with his family is probably a totally impossible task.
I’m not sure what kind of authority that is responsible for this animal. I think though that it should be excused because the chance that it will be able to live as normal a killer whale is very small. But this, other than me considering.
Transport to one aquarium is certainly not recommended! Living in a pool is not one for a killer whale … (Norwegian article here).

Alsvig, Norway.
Alsvig, Norway.

Given that this young whale is hanging around in the vicinity of a fish farm it would seem an easy enough thing to provide it with fish until its family can be located.  I’m sure that to the fish farmers the orca (or any marine mammal for that matter) represents potential loss – yet a one year old calf is hardly likely to cause damage, and the local businesses would benefit from the revenue its presence is sure to generate.
Why not at least try?

Experts Examine Dead New Zealand Killer Whales – Remain Puzzled

The recent death of a pod of killer whales on a rocky beach in New Zealand saddened people the world over and everyone is hoping to find a clear cause of their demise, though it is seldom possible to determine that information without lengthy tests on stranded animals.

Scientists examine orcas who stranded on New Zealand beach (Southland)
Scientists examine orcas who stranded on New Zealand beach (Southland)

When Orca Research Trust biologist Dr. Ingrid Visser arrived on the desolate scene after lengthy travel, she found the recently beached orcas too far decomposed to be able to determine the cause of death – but further examination, such as seeing damage to bones, may yet give clues.

One carcass had been washed away, another partly eaten by sharks and the remaining seven were severely decomposed.
Wildbase pathologist Stuart Hunter said tests yesterday would not be able to determine the cause of death. “They are too far decomposed,” he said.
Orca Research Trust founder Ingrid Visser said the animals when living were in very good condition.
“I don’t know any of them, which is good but sad because where have they come from?”
Initial observation of their teeth resembled a pod in the northern Pacific region that fed predominantly on sharks. (TVNZ)

Fortunately, one of the younger whales had been taken before substantial decomposition could take place to Massey University where the carcass was frozen.  Dr. Visser and her team will perform further tests, and at the very least will learn more about these unfortunate whales.
 

Last Orca to Die in the New Zealand Stranding Was Comforted by a Compassionate Bystander

Find updates on this subject at the target=”_blank”>International Dolphin and Whale Stranding Network.
New Zealanders are reacting with concern and outrage to  the recent tragic death of nine orcas who stranded on their shoreline this week (International Dolphin and Whale Stranding Network), but also with touching compassion.

A Southland woman held an orca as it lay dying and crying out near Tuatapere, while the rest of its pod lay dead on the beach on Tuesday night.
Debra Drain was one of the first to reach the nine stranded mammals, near Blue Cliffs, after a tramper told her husband Jeff Drain he had seen them while walking the Hump Ridge track.
Mrs Drain said several residents raced to the beach only to find eight of the orcas had already died.
They had been pushed up against rocks, with their flesh torn from them, and the last one was still crying out, she said.
“I couldn’t leave so I hugged a dying orca as it cried for its life.” Southland Times.

whalessad21214 dead orcas nz strand

Ngai Tahu representatives blessed the orcas.

And when the local Maori (the Ngai Tahu) representatives arrived, they gave the deceased orcas a traditional blessing.
Ngai Tahu spokesman Dean Whaanga said that ”…like our human friends that have passed on, (give) a blessing to them and wish them well on their last journey, their final farewell,” Mr Whaanga said. “Whales are like chiefs of the sea and because they died before we got there we said a wee farewell to them, on this their last journey” .

Māori sometimes remembered significant events and stories about whales by naming islands and landforms after them. The names referred to, among other things, significant strandings, navigational pathways, and important journeys.For Maori, the land is believed to be the body of Papatūānuku (the earth mother), the womb that gave birth to people.
Imbuing landmarks with the memory of whales shows the reverence with which these creatures could be regarded. Whales Tohora

Seismic exploration.
Seismic exploration.

While the cause could be due to many factors, local residents blame the stranding on the seismic oil exploration going on in the area.  These explorations involve a near constant bedlam of sound, often for months, because the ships need to  generate loud enough sound to penetrate the seabed, which then returns an echo for analysis.
According to a post on the International Dolphin and Whale Stranding Network, New Zealanders are planning to protest the presence of the seismic vessels, one person wrote:

“…I live reasonably close to where these orca were stranded – the concerned citizens of the east coast of NZ are actually protesting, this saturday, the seismic surveying happening right fucking now. Here in our country and off our beaches. This is the 2nd mass stranding in 3 weeks – the other being a mass stranding of Blackfish on farewell spit – when Anadarko were doing seismic surveying on the west coast of NZ – These whales did not die for nothing – we are making posters and preparing for the protest this Saturday with renewed anger and rage.”

The oil industry should take this seriously, when Kiwis make up their mind on something and take a stand, they are resolute…just consider how they kicked the U.S. Navy out of their waters because we would not agree to their ‘no nuclear powered ships’ legislation. It took three decades for New Zealand to renew relationships with the U.S. Navy (and they still won’t let the nuclear powered ships within 12 miles).
People the world over have had enough of sitting by while the marine environment is destroyed – a handful of fishing boats disrupted seismic explorations in the Caribbean, for example – and will expect a full report on the whales’ deaths.
My guess is that the New Zealanders will see that we get it.