Killer Tails

Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Orcas show their smarts by working together to whip up a meal. Here, a pod hunts for herring in Norway’s Andfjorden. Members of the pod coordinate their moves, herding a mass of herring into a manageable ball. They then whip their tails against the ball, stunning or killing the fish.

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Many aquariums in the United States have already shut down their dolphin petting pools, citing their inherently abusive and unsafe nature. Captives are kept intentionally hungry, so that they are forced to interact with park visitors. The fish portions are very small, to keep the dolphins constantly coming back for more and enduring the poking and prodding of thousands of hands on their bodies.

Sometimes the dolphins are touched in rough or painful ways by well-meaning tourists. Inevitably, garbage is dropped in the pool, creating a choking hazard for dolphins. And visitors get injured by the dolphins. Clearly, the regulation of this facility is desperately inadequate, putting both dolphins and humans at risk.

Regulation of dolphin interactions can be difficult even when it involves experienced professionals. The recent death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau demonstrates that cetaceans don’t always follow the rules – especially when they are stressed, frustrated and demoralized, as captives tend to be. Expecting children to follow the rules in an uncontrolled chaotic environment such as the Seaworld petting pool is a recipe for disaster – something that they are hiding beneath a false sense of security and by laying blame on parents for not controlling their children.

You should never buy a ticket to a captive dolphin show or experience. Instead, go out to the actual sea world – the ocean – and view them in their natural home, on their terms. This is a safe, rewarding and truly magical experience.

Source: http://dolphinproject.net/campaigns/captivity-industry/dolphin-petting-pools/

What’s on that whale?!

This close up of whale skin shows a community of living creatures. Gray Whales have two common hitchhikers on their bodies: barnacles and whale LICE.

But whale lice aren’t lice at all; they’re a type of amphipod crustacean called cyamids. And each species of cyamid is unique to a species of whale! To survive, cyamids hitch a ride on a whale and munch bits of its skin and flesh. If the whale is healthy these parasites don’t harm it - a commensal relationship. If a whale is covered in them it is often an indication of illness or injury.

Photo by refuge volunteer Roy W. Lowe

(via: Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuges)

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Navy to deafen 15,900 whales and dolphins and kill 1,800 more

According to U.S. Navy estimates, the use of high frequency underwater sound for testing in Hawaii, the California and Atlantic Coasts, and the Gulf of Mexico will deafen more than 15,900 whales and dolphins and kill 1,800 more over the next 5 years. Whales and dolphins depend on sound to navigate and live. Your signature and comment could stop this Naval program, potentially saving the lives of these ocean creatures.

Please stand up for these voiceless creatures!

Sign this petition

US Navy Contact Page

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These gif come from what would be one of the first recordings of an Omura’s whale (Balaenoptera omurai) this baleen whale is one of the least known species of whales in the world.  Was described in 2003,  as an ancient lineage basal to a Bryde’s/sei whale clade. Currently known only from whaling and stranding specimens primarily from the western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans,

Now, researchers have studied around 25 individuals in Madagascar, noticing unique body patterns. The study will continue on whales’ vocalizations, behavior and population characteristics.

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Eco-friendly whale watching: kayaking

Pros: No noise pollution, no oil consumption, no chemical pollution, humane alternative to captivity, more peaceful than a boat

Be sure to follow all whale watching regulations in the area strictly! Keep your distance, don’t feed or touch, and never pursue an animal leaving the area. Let them come to you if they want.