The Beacon

Blog Tags: Sperm Whales

Ocean Roundup: Seafood Fraud Cases Declining with Staff Cuts, Settlement Reached for Arctic Drilling Violations, and More

A settlement has been reached over safety violations during 2012 Arctic drilling

Tug boats pulling the Kulluk drilling rig after it ran aground near Kodiak Island. The company operating the Kulluk and another oil rig in 2012 has been fined for safety violations. (Photo: U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Noble Drilling (U.S.) LLC—the company that operated oil rigs in Royal Dutch Shell’s 2012 controversial Arctic drilling season—agreed to pay $12.2 in fines for safety violations. The settlement also includes issues with the Kulluk drilling rig, which ran aground in December 2012 off of Kodiak Island. Alaska Dispatch News


Continue reading...

Ocean Roundup: Dolphin Intelligence May Be Overestimated, Penguin Personalities To Help with Climate Change Adaption, and More

New research shows that dolphins may not be as smart as thought

Dolphins may not be as intelligent as assumed. (Photo: Oceana / Tim Calver)

- It turns out that pollution and runoff may be having a much bigger impact on the Great Barrier Reef than previously thought. New research shows that pollution may be decreasing organisms’ ability to photosynthesize, thereby making it harder to absorb CO2. The Guardian


Continue reading...

CEO Note: Sperm Whales Left Unprotected from Drift Gillnets

drift gillnets threaten sperm whales off California

“Mother and baby sperm whale." (Photo: Gabriel Barathieu, Wikimedia Commons) 

Off the coast of California, deadly drift gillnets threaten some of our most iconic and amazing marine species, like the endangered sperm whale. These nets can entangle and drown open-ocean animals that swim into them. Last year, Oceana successfully pressured the government to put in place emergency rules to protect sperm whales from these deadly nets. Unfortunately, the government recently let these protections expire, violating two federal laws.


Continue reading...

Conservation Groups Plan Lawsuit to Protect Sperm Whales

California Swordfish Drift Gillnet Fishery threatens sperm whales

“Mother and baby sperm whale." (Photo: Gabriel Barathieu, Wikimedia Commons) 

Earlier this month, several conservation groups, including Oceana, announced plans to file a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to protect sperm whales from deadly, mile-long drift gillnets used in the California drift gillnet fishery.


Continue reading...

Whales Found to be Crucial for Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus). (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons  / Scott Portelli)

In June, researchers found that whale poo is highly beneficial to marine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean since it is rich in iron. Now, new findings show that whales’ contribution to the sea goes far beyond just their excrements.


Continue reading...

Sperm Whales Receive Emergency Protection from California Swordfish Fishery

sperm whale diving

A sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) prepares for a deep dive. (Photo: Oceana / Juan Cuetos)

Earlier this week, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) reinstated emergency protections for sperm whales from California’s swordfish and thresher shark fishery, which protects these magnificent whales from accidentally being caught in drift gillnet gear. The agency will now require independent observers on all vessels in deep offshore waters where sperm whales are frequently observed, and require that all vessels carry satellite monitoring systems to ensure they’re avoiding areas off limits to drift gillnets.


Continue reading...

Whales Get Sunburns, Too

Sperm whales can develop sunburn-like blisters when swimming near the surface. (Photo: Paul Richards)

 

If you head to the beach without sunscreen, you’ll probably return home with a scarlet, painful sunburn. That’s because you’ve exposed your skin to several hours of UV rays, which damage DNA within your skin cells. But did you know that whales can get sunburned, too?


Continue reading...

It's Endangered Species Day!

The Endangered Species Act protects endangered and critically endangered creatures like this loggerhead sea turtle. Still, there is much work to be done. 

May 17th is the day to show your love for endangered sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and all sorts of marine creatures.  Why? Because it’s Endangered Species Day! Today is the day to learn and share information about your favorite endangered animals and rally support around the creatures that need it most.


Continue reading...

Drift Gillnets Kept at Bay . . . For Now

A frequent victim of drift gillnets © Jose Alejandro Alvarez/Marine Photobank

We can breathe a momentary sigh of relief. This Monday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to maintain protections off California and Oregon for the critically endangered population of Pacific leatherback sea turtles. However, in 2014 these federal fishery managers will consider another proposal for allowing driftnets into sea turtle habitat southwest of Monterey, California.

At the meeting a few days ago in Tacoma, Washington, the Council considered a full array of proposals to expand the use of drift gillnets off California and Oregon and into an area currently designated to protect Pacific leatherback sea turtles. But Oceana—with the help of our partners, and support of our avid Wavemakers—successfully thwarted those efforts by presenting new science on the decline of leatherback sea turtles; by revealing scientific data showing massive wasteful bycatch of large whales, dolphins, sharks, and other fish by the drift gillnet fishery; and by bringing forward the public uproar over the proposed expansion of the driftnet fishery into a currently protected area.

Mile-long drift nets hang like invisible curtains in the water column to catch swordfish, but they unselectively entangle other marine life traversing through the open ocean. To numerically paint the portrait of this wasteful fishery, for every five swordfish caught in 2011, one marine mammal was killed and six fish were tossed back dead. When it comes to whales, this fishery takes many species, but one of particular concern is the sperm whale. The largest of the toothed whales, sperm whales have the largest brain of any animal and it is estimated that 16 of these amazing endangered whales were taken in the drift gillnet fishery in 2010 alone.


Continue reading...

The Hidden World of the Pacific Seafloor

In this gorgeous new Oceana video Alexandra Cousteau delves into Monterey Bay to illuminate the diversity of life at the bottom of the ocean, a crucial habitat that is under the constant threat of obliteration from bottom trawling. Using an ROV the camera captures an otherworldly scene, as scallops flutter by and curlicued basket stars unfurl. Armies of shrimp and brittle stars scamper by, fed by the organic matter from above that drifts down the water column like snowfall, sustaining a remarkably rich community. In shallower waters, coral gardens that take hundreds of years to blossom shelter rockfish and ingeniously disguised crabs, and serve as a nursery for dozens of species of fish. Here octopuses go camouflage against the rocky shale, out of sight of the hungry sperm whales and sea lions from above. Anemone-covered spires upwell nutrient rich waters that feed shoals of krill, which in turn feed blue whales. It is an intricately connected ecosystem and it can be destroyed in an instant by bottom trawling. That’s why Oceana has pushed for an end to bottom trawling in ecologically sensitive areas. And that work has paid off in concrete victories: in 2006 NOAA protected 140,000 square miles of Pacific seafloor from the destructive practice, but more needs to be done. For the most part this world goes unseen by human eyes and it’s why Oceana is working laboriously to document these precious areas before they disappear.


Continue reading...

Browse by Date