Special Investigation Into Right
Whale Deaths on Atlantic Coast
The deaths of 13 right whales off Canada and the New England coasts prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to declare the deaths an "unusual mortality event." Ten dead whales were confirmed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and two off Massachusetts in August. From a population of between 450 and 500, this many deaths is alarming. Eight were males; two were females. An additional whale stranded in Cape Cod last April to bring the total to 13.
Of concern is that the deaths occurred over such a brief period. When dealing with a population of less than 500, it's two to three percent of the entire population. There were low birth rates during calving seasons off the coast of the southeastern United States.
This brings into question the long-term future of the whales.
The population is "fragile" said David Gouveia, protected species monitoring program branch chief for NOAA fisheries.
Ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement continue to threaten the animals. Canadian researchers are working to complete the necropsies on some of the whales. They hope to have it completed as soon as possible.
Canada and the U.S. have formed a working group to collaborate and look at the science and management needed to try and better protect the whales.
Vaquita Rescue Operations
Beginning in October
The Vaquita CPR (Conservation, Protection and Recovery) is going forward with its attempt to capture some of the 30 remaining vaquitas, now on the verge of extinction. The current capture dates are scheduled for October 12 through November 10. The team has worked out details to capture and care for the vaquitas.
In Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, temporary sea pens await their arrival. More permanent vaquita sanctuary facilities will be built when the needs of the vaquita are better understood. Additional facilities include pools, a water and air filtration system, freezers for the vaquita food and a veterinary care unit. Backup facilities on land are in place in case the vaquita need to be moved in case of bad weather.
Boats are standing by to aid in the search, and acoustic data is being collected to help the team locate the most likely places to find this unique porpoise. U.S. Navy dolphins will aid in the search by trying to locate the porpoises by echolocation. The water is so murky and vaquita's time at the surface so brief that this additional component is deemed necessary.
Of course, all of this is fraught with difficulty as the possibility of losing another vaquita during the capture process is of great concern.
Of the $6 million required to cover this operation and care for vaquitas for the first year, $5.5 million was raised including $3 million from Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and over $1 million from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
The team is still looking for additional funding. Scientists who have worked to save the vaquita for many years believe this is the last chance to save the species from extinction.
Balloons Harm and Kill Many
Species Besides Marine Animals
A frantic Canada Goose came up to a patrol car and pecked on the side. She was asking for help with her gosling who was hopelessly tangled in the string from a balloon. Another officer was contacted who spent quite a bit of time disentangling the young goose for its quick-thinking mother.
REMINDER: Always remember to bring your reusable bags when shopping. Refuse straws at restaurants. Say "No Straw, please," when ordering.
Save The Whales reaches students of all ages with school outreach and community events. Many of the college students stay on to volunteer after graduation and, in one instance, it led to a job.
Thank you for supporting our efforts.
Maris Sidenstecker I
President, Save The Whales
501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
Voted Top-Rated NonProfit