Vaquita (Phocoena sinus) are so few in the world that all of them fit on a Illustration.

Quedan tan pocas Vaquitas Marinas (Phocoena sinus) en el mundo que todas caben en una ilustración.

With less than 60 vaquitas remaining in the wild, it is imperative that governments work together to eliminate the illegal fishing activity that is driving the vaquita, among other species, to extinction.

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.

There Are Whales Alive Today Who Were Born Before Moby Dick Was Written

Some of the bowhead whales in the icy waters off of Alaska today are over 200 years old

by Rose Eveleth

In Alaska’s North Slope, the population of bowhead whales seems to be recovering. But that’s really not the coolest part of this Alaska Dispatch story. Instead, it’s this, noticed by Geoffry Gagnon.:

There are bowhead whales still alive in arctic that were born long before Moby Dick was written in 1851. That’s nuts

That’s right, some of the bowhead whales in the icy waters today are over 200 years old. Alaska Dispatch writes:

Bowheads seem to be recovering from the harvest of Yankee commercial whaling from 1848 to 1915, which wiped out all but 1,000 or so animals. Because the creatures can live longer than 200 years — a fact  George discovered when he found an old stone harpoon point in a whale — some of the bowheads alive today may have themselves dodged the barbed steel points of the Yankee whalers…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

illustration by David G. Stanton/Publications Office - Smithsonian

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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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.

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Levitating Whales

Humpback whales are often considered to be the most acrobatic of the great whales, often exhibiting breaching behaviors.

A breach is defined as “a jump in which at least 40% of the body leaves the water” (via Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals). Despite their massive size, Humpback whales will occasionally display full, 100% breaches in which they appear to “levitate” when photographed, like in some of the above images

To accomplish a full breach, Humpback whales must break the surface at ~15 knots (8 m/s)-  nearly their maximum speed!

Image Sources: 1 2 3 4 5 6

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Aren’t these the cutest dolphins you’ve ever seen? Maui’s dolphin are the rarest, smallest dolphin subspecies on the planet -  and with only about 50 dolphins over one year old and less than 20 breeding females, Maui’s dolphins are facing imminent extinction. 

Why?

Humans, of course. Commercial fishing is the leading cause of the population decline. Wherever there are nets, there’s bycatch. Bycatch - when marine life, like dolphins or other marine animals, are hauled up with the caught fish, and then discarded overboard dead or dying. Maui’s dolphins can’t breed fast enough to account for all the animals that are lost due to gill nets and trawl nets used by the fishing industry. It’s completely avoidable, so why does it keep happening? It’s simple - their habitat needs more protection from commercial fishing nets, and the New Zealand’s fishing industry won’t let the government give it to them.

Industry bodies, such as the New Zealand Seafood Industry Council, SeaFIC have consistently opposed every effort to improve the protection for these animals or to achieve better observer coverage, including taking the government to court on several occasions in an attempt to overturn new regulations. Despite overwhelming evidence, New Zealand’s fishing industry still asserts that the “Best available information suggests no immediate crisis exists for either Maui’s or Hector’s dolphins”.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Austrian oil giant OMV has caused 3 oil spills near the dolphins’ home – most recently in February 2015. OMV wants to drill 7 more wells in the area, further increasing the risk to the last 50 Maui’s. Another spill could wipe out the dolphins for good. Seismic testing can also disrupt the dolphins and cause them to swim into fishing nets to become trapped/bycatch and die.

How can you help?

EXTINCTION IS FOREVER. LEARN MORE ABOUT MAUI’S AND HECTOR’S DOLPHINS HERE.

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