Happy Halloween from the ocean…

Northern Stargazer
Northern Stargazer

Each of these frightening fish has perfectly evolved to fill a niche in the ocean ecosystem, and in that sense aren’t any more creepy than any other carnivorous species. That said, they are scary looking! At the end is an idea for making your own easy monster-jaw treats.
Northern stargazer

The ‘sarcastic fringehead’ looks like Cookie Monster until it opens its mouth…don’t miss the end…

Fangtooth

Make your own Fangtooth fish jaws, using apples, jam and slivered almonds – creepy yet healthy!
20-eerie-Halloween-treats-you’ll-think-twice-before-eating-_1 sea apple jaws
Pacific HatchetfishHatchet fishCompletely harmless and 5 inches in size, these hatchet fish are bioluminescent and hide in the depths in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.
 
 

Sixth New Calf for the Endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales, the Fifth This Calendar Year!

 
“Great news!!! A new calf was documented today in J pod! The calf, designated J53, was seen traveling with J17. This is the third calf in J pod this year! More information will be coming soon . . . .” The Center for Whale Research

The Center for Whale Research reports that J50 was born in December (so she is a 2014 calf). J51, J52 and now J53 are all 2015 calves. L121, and L122 are also 2015 calves.

 

Southern Resident killer whales are the only known resident population to occur in the U.S. Southern residents are comprised of three pods: J, K, and L pods. The Southern Residentsare considered one “stock” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and one “distinct population segment” (therefore, “species”) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Southern Resident Killer Whale population is currently estimated at about 80 whales, a decline from its estimated historical level of about 200 during the late 1800s.
Beginning in the late 1960s, the live-capture fishery for oceanarium display removed an estimated 47 whales and caused an immediate decline in Southern Resident numbers. The population fell an estimated 30% to about 67 whales by 1971. By 2003, the population increased to 83 whales. Due to its small population size, we listed this segment of the population as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2005 and designated critical habitat in 2006.
Their range during the spring, summer, and fall includes the inland waterways of Washington state and the transboundary waters between the United States and Canada. Relatively little is known about the winter movements and range of the Southern Resident stock. However, in recent years, they have been regularly spotted as far south as central California during the winter months and as far north as Southeast Alaska, through our Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s satellite tagging work. (NOAA).
More information soon!

Killer Whale Dies Following the Muddy Disaster at Marineland

Photo by Liam Kotteburg via Orcahome.de
19 year old Valentin.  Photo by Liam Kotteburg courtesy of  Orcahome.de

Born 19 years ago, the killer whale ‘Valentin’ lived his entire life in the confines of Marineland’s tanks – tanks which ultimately may have been the cause of his death. Recent flooding in the south of France overwhelmed Marineland’s filtration system causing the water quality to plummet. The mud and debris led to other animal deaths, including turtles, rays and fish.
Valentin  and his mother, Freya. Photo by Emilly, courtesy of Orcahome.de
Valentin and his mother, Freya. Photo by Emilly, courtesy of Orcahome.de

Valentin’s mother, Freya, died four months ago of an undetermined illness and the stress of losing her may have played a part in Valentin’s death as well. According to an article at Orca Aware, in some populations in the wild male survival is linked to their mothers and once the mothers die their sons often don’t live long. Yet Valentin had displayed aggressive behavior to his mother along with a suite of abnormal behaviors including chewing on concrete and bumping his head on the tank, according to the Orca Aware article.

Grampus swim in muddy water in the Marineland zoo, devastated by floods, in the city of Antibes, southeastern France, on October 6, 2015. Volunteers and firefighters began the gruelling task on October 5 of cleaning up French Riviera towns strewn with mud and debris, as the death toll from floods which tore through the region rose to 20. Citizens of Britain, Italy and Portugal were among those who died when a torrential weekend downpour trapped people in garages and retirement homes in Mediterranean resort towns beloved by jet-setting tourists. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET
Killer whales swim in muddy water in the Marineland zoo, devastated by floods, in the city of Antibes, southeastern France, on October 6, 2015. Volunteers and firefighters began the gruelling task on October 5 of cleaning up French Riviera towns strewn with mud and debris, as the death toll from floods which tore through the region rose to 20. Citizens of Britain, Italy and Portugal were among those who died when a torrential weekend downpour trapped people in garages and retirement homes in Mediterranean resort towns beloved by jet-setting tourists. AFP PHOTO / JEAN CHRISTOPHE MAGNENET

In an article in The Economic Voice, former trainer and author John Hargrove expressed his concern about the contaminated killer whale tanks.  He shared the letter he wrote to the managing director of Marineland, pleading with them to take swift action to help the whales before it was too late:

Bernard Giampaolo
Managing Director
Marineland Antibes France
Via e-mail: B.Giampaolo@marineland.fr
Dear Mr Giampaolo,
It breaks my heart to hear that Valentin, Inouk, Wikie and the other orcas at Marineland whom I love and once cared for are in grave danger.
Incredibly, the horrific water quality at the killer whale stadium today is not much worse than when I was a trainer there, when the subpar filtration system was ill-equipped to handle the volume of water and bioload of, at that time, seven orcas. There was no chilling system, which resulted in dangerously high levels of bacteria in the water, leading the whales to develop infections – as did I, since I was swimming with them every day. The filtration system was so inadequate that there was often zero visibility, and it could take close to a week before all the water was completely exchanged, resulting in standing algae on the water surface – proof of stagnant water. The malfunctioning chlorine-injection system caused eye burns so severe that they could potentially lead to blindness. The whales were once so badly burned that they couldn’t open their eyes for days, and sheets of skin from their head and back just peeled away. The whales were obviously in terrible pain.
How many more examples do you need to see that captivity is wrong and cruel? These social, emotional, intelligent animals have suffered their entire lives and now are in critical condition, all because they are being held captive for profit and greed.
Marineland must do the right thing and release the orcas. The situation is perilous and their lives are in grave danger as they try to survive in a pit of muddy water. There is no time to waste.
Regards,
John Hargrove

The captive industry insists that killer whales get the highest standard of care, and that the whales are safer in tanks than they would be in the ocean (where dangerous things like sharks lurk). Repeatedly we are told that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums  are self-monitoring organizations that ensure that orcas are kept in standards that meet or accede government regulations – yet there were no backup measures in place at Marineland even though the park has been flooded and closed in the past.
It just doesn’t seem as though amusement parks are able to follow through on the promises they make to the public and to the animals that are forced to spend their lives entertaining us. The whales are not provided with adequate space, normal social interactions, or any guarantee that the parks can keep them safe.

Valentin. Photo by Valkim courtesy of Orcahome.de
Valentin. Photo by Valkim courtesy of Orcahome.de

The video below is long, but it will take just 30 seconds or so of viewing to understand what kind of life Valentin had, and to witness how few people even want to see those shows anymore.
Valentin was born for our amusement, and died after a shortened life spent doing tricks. And ultimately he wasn’t even safe in the tanks that were his home.