Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Beaked whale dies at Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility

NOAA Fisheries Service reports that the Blainesville Beaked Whale rescued Aug. 16 off Maui died at 1:50 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29 despite valiant efforts by staff and volunteers.



Although the whale was listed in “stable but guarded” condition and survived almost two weeks at the UH-Hilo Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility no beaked whale has ever survived to the point where it could be released back into the wild.


A necropsy of the sub adult male was performed late Sunday and revealed the whale suffered from moderate pneumonia, severe gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease and deteriorating body condition.


source: http://www.hawaii247.com/2010/08/30/beaked-whale-dies-at-hawaii-cetacean-rehabilitation-facility/

Monday, 30 August 2010

Bolivia finishes rescue of 12 pink river dolphins

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivian biologists say they have finished rescuing 12 pink, freshwater dolphins who were trapped in a river.

Rescue team member Mariana Escobar says the six-day effort to free the dolphins finished on Thursday.




The animals had swum from their normal home in the Rio Grande into the more tranquil Rio Paila to breed. Flooding blocked the river and prevented them from returning to their habitat. They were at risk of dying as the dry season lowers the smaller river.


Rescuers caught the dolphin in nets and carried them in padded containers in an all-terrain vehicle to the larger river, where they were released. The dolphins weight about 65 to 90 pounds (30 to 40 kilograms).


source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jhuVvIsknQXW1UTEFjiqEugAPCDAD9HT907O0

Gulf World welcomes baby dolphin

Only days after being born, Gulf World’s latest addition is bobbing and splashing in a dolphin play pen.The first of Gulf World’s three anticipated baby dolphins arrived about 7 a.m. Monday. Director of mammals Secret Holmes said the delivery was smooth and the mother and calf seem to be in top health.


“I got a call at 6:45 a.m. (when the calf was being born) and by the time I got here at 7 a.m., he was swimming,” she said. The calf is about three feet long and weighs roughly 50 pounds, Holmes said, and still has fetal band striping that comes from being balled up in the womb. It will fade with age.

“He’s a robust little thing,” Holmes said.


Gulf World personnel are waiting to discover a little more about the calf’s personality before assigning him a name, Holmes said. Already, the calf is beginning to show a touch of independence as he tests how far he is allowed to wander from his mother before being reprimanded, Holmes said.


For the first several months of its life, the calf will stay very close to his mother, Brinnon, as he is learning basic rules of survival. Simple tasks like learning when and how to nurse, how to navigate swimming on his own and buoyancy, are learned by watching his mother and the two pregnant female dolphins — Sandy and Indy — who are in the same pool.


“The baby is in school,” Gulf World co-owner Brad Miller said. “Everyday, it’s learning something new.” When Sandy’s and Indy’s babies are born, the pool will become a small “nursery” until the calves are large enough to mingle with the other dolphins, Holmes said. Indy will be a young mother and Holmes said she is hoping Brinnon, who she called “an extremely good mother,” will teach her the ropes.


Staff members already are trying to build a relationship with the calf, but that progresses only as fast as Brinnon will allow, Holmes said. Although trainers have a good relationship with the mother, she is still protective of her calf. Plans are to keep the new calf at Gulf World, and he might become available for visitors to see as soon as Brinnon seems comfortable with the idea, Holmes said.


After a long drought in their breeding program without a viable male, Holmes said the staff was excited to welcome two calves last year. However, the first two years of a young dolphin’s life are critical, and both died in infancy, she said. The new calf represents a new hope.

“We’re always excited about any pregnancy,” she said.


source: http://www.newsherald.com/news/panama-86549-baby-welcomes.html

DNA Extracted from Dolphin ‘Blow’

Georgetown scientists are among the first researchers to extract DNA from a dolphin’s exhalations or “blow,” reducing the need for invasive biopsies commonly used to study these and other marine mammals.

Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology, and graduate students Ewa Krzyszczyk (G‘13) and Eric Patterson (G’12) worked with researchers at the National Aquarium and the University of Queensland to find a way to avoid using “dart biopsies,” which involve shooting the animal and extracting DNA from tissue left on the dart.


Avoids Injury
“Dart biopsying is considered inappropriate for very young animals and the technique requires considerable skill to avoid injuries,” Mann says. “Thus identifying alternative genetic collection techniques for these animals remains a priority, especially for internationally protected species.”

Mann is a senior author on an article showing how “blow sampling” is as good a method of DNA extraction as blood sampling. The article was published in the Aug. 25 edition of the online scientific journal PLoS ONE.


Exhaling on Cue

At the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Md., both blow and blood samples were collected between March and May 2010 from six bottlenose dolphins. A test tube was held inverted over the dolphin’s blowhole as they were trained to exhale on cue and a control sample of seawater was taken to ensure that DNA results were from blow samples and not seawater contamination.

The scientists proved that both the blow and blood samples resulted in perfectly matched DNA for each dolphin. The National Science Foundation and Georgetown provided funding for the research.


DNA and Shark Bay
The authors are now applying their new method to a wild population of bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia’s Shark Bay, where they have studied the animals for more than two decades.

“Both biopsy and blow-sampling require close proximity of the boat, but blow-sampling can be achieved when dolphins voluntarily come close to the boat and involves no harmful contact,” Mann says.


source: http://explore.georgetown.edu/news/?ID=52111

Injured sperm whale spotted in a Miami Beach marina

A small injured sperm whale appeared Tuesday afternoon weaving through the waters of a Miami Beach marina. The U.S. Coast Guard first heard about the whale about 2 p.m., spokesman Petty Officer Russell Tippets said.





Television video showed the whale swimming around wood pillars and occasionally coming up for air at the marina in the 300 block of Alton Road.


The young whale appeared to be injured. But scientists aren't sure yet what caused the injuries or how badly the whale was hurt, said Shelley Dawicki, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries. The calf's mother hasn't been seen, Dawicki said.


Two members of NOAA's marine animal stranding network are at the marina, Dawicki said, and determining the best steps to take.The Coast Guard has set up a safety zone around the whale and told boaters over the radio to stay out of the area around the whale, Tippets said.


source: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2010-08-25/news/sfl-small-whale-in-miami-beach-082410_1_sperm-whale-young-whale-atmospheric-administration-fisheries

2 of 9 trapped dolphins rescued in Bolivia river

Dozens of biologists and environmental activists rescued two freshwater dolphins Sunday among nine that have been trapped in a river by low water levels for more than a month.




The two dolphins were caught in nets and brought to shore. They were put in padded, water-filled aluminum containers and driven on all-terrain vehicles about two miles downstream, where they were put in a pen in deeper water.


"This first rescue operation succeeded in transferring two freshwater dolphins weighing between 30 and 40 kilos (66-88 pounds)," Rodrigo Quintana, an environment manager, told The Associated Press.He said the two rescued dolphins would be kept in the pen until they could be reunited with the other seven. He estimated it would take two or three days more to round up all of the dolphins.


The nine dolphins were trapped in early July in a tributary of the Rio Grande, north of the city of Santa Cruz, when drought caused water levels to drop. The rescue operation is being mount by biologists from the Noel Kempff History Museum, with financial support from Bolivia's state oil company, foundations and others.


source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/22/AR2010082203295.html

Beaked whale stable, refusing to eat solids

A beaked whale rescued this week from a beach in Kihei remained in "stable but guarded" condition Friday at the Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.


The 1,900-pound female was still being fed "squid milkshakes" every four hours, with continuing attempts to get her to eat solid food, said David Schofield, marine mammal response network coordinator for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in Hawaii.


"She's carrying her squid around in her mouth, playing with it rather than eating it," Schofield said. "She probably doesn't feel very well.

"We would like to see her eating fish on her own. We would like to see her a little bit more energetic. But at least she's not going the other way."


The Blainville's beaked whale was rescued Monday after beaching itself in shallow water off the Waipuilani Beach access in Kihei. Volunteers helped tend to the whale for about seven hours before it was trucked to Kahului Airport, then flown aboard a Coast Guard C-130 plane to Hilo.


source: http://www.mauinews.com/page/content.detail/id/534604.html?nav=10

Bottlenose dolphin's birth went swimmingly well

Mother gently nudged her son as they set out for a first swim together just moments after the birth. The 1.2m (4ft) as yet unnamed male calf emerged from the womb tail-first, so it does not breathe in water straight away – and was able to see and swim immediately.



Mother and calf were captured nuzzling up to each other in a series of extraordinary pictures after the birth at the Oltremare lagoon in Riccione, Italy. The period shortly after birth is one of the biggest dangers for dolphin calves, with the chance they will not suffer complications at less than 60 per cent.


But within two-and-a-half hours, Blue was suckling her calf with milk containing antibodies to protect him from infections which could have been fatal. It doubled its birth weight in three weeks and Blue was eating up to 20kg of fish a day – double her normal intake – to feed him. She will now nurse her calf – whose 25-year-old father Micha is originally from Cuba – for about 18 months, although it will start eating fish within about four months.


The bottlenose is among the most common of the 45 different types of dolphins and in the wild will live until an average of 20 years old, although they typically survive longer in captivity.


source: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/838241-bottlenose-dolphins-birth-went-swimmingly

Beached Whale sent to Hilo after rescue on Maui

A beaked whale weighing nearly a ton was rescued yesterday after beaching itself in South Maui. It took 30 people to lift the whale onto the sand. The stricken animal was flown later to a marine mammal rehabilitation pool in Hilo.






"The animal is still in the water and swimming on its own," said Jennifer Turner, assistant director of the Hawaii Cetacean Rehabilitation Facility in Hilo. "It's really, really quite exciting. ... At least the whale has a chance." Turner said the new facility, open since December, has enabled scientists and volunteers to save a stranded whale rather than euthanize it. Turner said a veterinarian was awaiting results of a blood test to determine why the whale was trying to beach itself.

Officials are also attempting to determine whether its hearing has been damaged, impairing its ability to navigate through sonar. The whale received intravenous fluids to fight dehydration. Officials at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary received a call at about 8 a.m. yesterday about a whale trying to beach itself near the tennis courts at Maui Sunset condominium.


She said sanctuary officials, along with a network of volunteers and a veterinarian, stayed with the whale until 3 p.m., when it was transferred onto a flatbed truck and taken to Kahului Airport for flight aboard a Coast Guard C-130 to Hilo. David Schofield, the federal marine mammal response coordinator in Hawaii, said the whale was put into a hospital pool with 25,000 gallons of water. He said the beaked whale is about 14 feet long and weighs 1,800 to 1,900 pounds. Schofield said a beaked whale can grow to be about 24 feet long and weigh about 2,400 pounds.


He said beaked whales are known to swim to depths of thousands of feet. "The fact this animal was near shore and even stranding suggest it was very, very sick," he said.



source: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinews/20100817_Beached_whale_sent_to_Hilo_after_rescue_on_Maui.html#axzz0y7j8W92g

SeaWorld raising first newborn beluga whale

Sure, she’s cute. Come on, she’s a baby beluga whale. She’ll even swim on her back and blow bubbles. Now nearly 2 months old, she weighs a healthy 139 pounds. Who couldn’t fall for this blubbery bundle of joy?





Well, her mother for one. Immediately after giving birth, she ignored her calf. SeaWorld San Diego — poised to celebrate the new addition — knew it had a problem. Suddenly, it had to play mom. The park’s marine mammal specialists have been doing so since her June 23 birth, caring for the calf in a pool behind the park’s beluga exhibit.


“We knew within a minute. It’s so unusual. Almost all the time, the animals here show interest” in their offspring, said Bill Winhall, assistant curator for mammals. SeaWorld San Diego had a second problem. Beluga births at the facility are very rare. Only one other calf has been born there since 1997, when such whales first were put on exhibit. That occurred two years ago, and she was sickly at birth. She died soon after.


So while the park has a lot of experience in saving a wide range of sea mammals, it didn’t have much when it came to belugas. “We’re ecstatic,” Winhall said about the success so far with their latest calf, which still needs to be named. “And we’re tired.” No wonder. They’ve had to hand-feed the calf with a syringe containing a special mixture of milk, fish oil, ground-up fish and heavy whipping cream. The cream is not for flavor. It’s got fat.


The staffers do this every two hours, 10 times a day, seven days a week. They have to get in the pool, gently pull their beluga to the side, hold her and put the tube into her mouth. Actually, the feeding has been getting a lot easier. For the first week, before they created the special formula, the marine specialists had to obtain some of the mother’s breast milk by using a pump. But it was important: They wanted the calf to get the all-important antibodies.


They stayed with the calf 24 hours a day. Then, they got lucky. They introduced another adult female beluga to the calf, hoping the two would bond. Belugas are extremely social animals and it was vital that the newborn get such stimulation. So in swam Allua, a beluga whale that the park has on loan from the Vancouver Aquarium. She had a history of befriending younger belugas. And wouldn’t you know it: Allua and the calf hit it off. They glide together in the pool. One Sea World official calls Allua “auntie.”


In coming weeks, the calf will be introduced to the other three adult belugas at SeaWorld San Diego, including Ruby, her mother. Ruby also gave birth to the calf that didn’t survive. Winhall has no idea why she ignored her calf at birth. He said the phenomenon also occurs in the wild. At least one scientist questions that. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal expert with the Human Society of the United States, said a whale in the wild can be orphaned, but it’s normally because of a traumatic event such as a storm separating it from the mother. A mother ignoring a calf is something that Rose doesn’t believe has been observed in the wild. “I can’t say that it hasn’t happened, but they can’t say it has happened.”


SeaWorld San Diego’s beluga exhibit is not centered on breeding. It’s an educational and conservation program, Winhall said. The exhibit does include two male and two female whales, and if they are so inclined ... That the belugas are having sex shows the exhibit offers a healthy, stress-free environment, Winhall said. It also means a surprise package can come along. A routine blood test in early 2009 revealed that Ruby had, well, that special glow.


The gestation period is 14 to 15 months, so the park had a lot of time to get the nursery ready. When the big moment arrived, SeaWorld officials were excited. Little did they know they were about to take on a pretty arduous responsibility. The little calf is still mostly gray. She won’t take on the familiar white beluga look for several years. Soon, she’ll be eating fish. And soon — in maybe a couple of months — she’ll join the others in the park’s Wild Arctic exhibit. Let’s hope mom has read some parenting books by then.


source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/11/seaworld-raising-first-newborn-beluga-whale/

Dolphin Born at Dolphin Quest Hawaii

Dolphin Quest Hawaii is excited to announce the birth of a calf to Pele, a 25 year old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Pele delivered a female calf on August 5, 2010, at 4:09 p.m. Both mother and calf are doing great. Dolphin Quest Hawaii is located at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“We are elated to welcome Pele’s calf to the family”, said Michelle Campbell, Director of Marine Animals for Dolphin Quest. “Both baby and mother are healthy, and active, and the maternal bond is clearly evident.”


Pele has three other babies in the Dolphin Quest family. Pele is mother to daughter Keo, born in 2000, son Makana, born in November 2003, and son Hua, born on Easter morning in 2008.


The first few months of a young dolphin’s life are critical, as babies learn to nurse and mothers and calves establish nurturing bonds. Dolphin Quest’s marine mammal specialists will be monitoring Pele and her calf on a 24-hour basis for the next several weeks.


source: http://www.dolphinquest.com/index.php/news_dqh081010

Monday, 16 August 2010

Increase in 'warm water' dolphins off North East coast

Increase in 'warm water' dolphins off North East coast

White-beaked dolphinThe white-beaked dolphin winters off the North East coast

Warmer seas could be responsible for a change in the type of dolphins spotted off the coast of the North East of England, a survey has suggested.

The North East Cetacean Project found an increase in sightings of common, bottlenose and Risso's dolphins - species associated with warmer waters.

There have also been fewer sightings of white-beaked dolphin and harbour porpoise, which prefer colder water.

It is thought the distribution shift is due to increasing sea temperatures.

The NECP is a partnership including the charity Marinelife, Northern Experience Wildlife Tours, Natural England, the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club and the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Tom Brereton, who analysed the findings, said: "This research adds to the growing body of evidence that some species of whales and dolphins are showing shifts in distribution, possibly as a result of increasing sea temperatures.

"For example, common dolphins have been spreading north in recent years, presumably due to warming sea temperatures.

"This is a potential cause of concern because studies in other regions have shown that the arrival of common dolphins coincides with a corresponding disappearance of white-beaked dolphins.

"White-beaked dolphins have a much narrower habitat requirement and are associated with colder sea conditions."

The project is asking the region's fishermen, recreational dive and angling boats, yachtsmen, and pleasure craft operators to get in touch with any offshore sightings.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-10980145

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Three Dolphin Babies Now Have Names!

Dolphin Quest Bermuda would like to thank the public for helping to name the three dolphin babies. Cooper, Cavello and Marley are the winning names chosen for Dolphin Quest’s newest dolphins selected from over 500 entries.

In April, Caliban, Bailey and Ely gave birth within 13 days of each other to Cooper, Cavello and Marley respectively. Dolphin Quest received name suggestions from across Bermuda and the world after Dolphin Quest launched its name the baby contest in June.

The name selected for Caliban’s boy is “Cooper”. Cooper was named after the Old Cooperage Building which is the former barrel-making factory in Dockyard, now home to one of Bermuda’s largest craft markets.

Bailey’s girl was named “Cavello” after the beautiful Cavello Bay in Bermuda’s West End.

Ely’s girl was named “Marley” after the magnificent Marley Beach on Bermuda’s south shore.

“Dolphin Quest would like to sincerely thank all who participated in the dolphin naming contest”, said Roma Hayward, Manager of Marine Animals for Dolphin Quest Bermuda. “There were many great suggestions, and choosing the final three names was no easy task.”

Those who submitted the winning names will receive a VIP dolphin experience and get to meet the newly named dolphins in person.


http://www.dolphinquest.com/index.php/news_dqb072810

Dolphin Born at Dolphin Quest Hawaii


DQH - New Dolphin CalfDolphin Quest Hawaii is excited to announce the birth of a calf to Pele, a 25 year old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Pele delivered a female calf on August 5, 2010, at 4:09 p.m. Both mother and calf are doing great. Dolphin Quest Hawaii is located at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s Big Island.

“We are elated to welcome Pele’s calf to the family”, said Michelle Campbell, Director of Marine Animals for Dolphin Quest. “Both baby and mother are healthy, and active, and the maternal bond is clearly evident.”

Pele has three other babies in the Dolphin Quest family. Pele is mother to daughter Keo, born in 2000, son Makana, born in November 2003, and son Hua, born on Easter morning in 2008.

The first few months of a young dolphin’s life are critical, as babies learn to nurse and mothers and calves establish nurturing bonds. Dolphin Quest’s marine mammal specialists will be monitoring Pele and her calf on a 24-hour basis for the next several weeks.

DQH - Pele's Calf

http://www.dolphinquest.com/index.php/news_dqh081010

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Half dead dolphins found agency staff near the aviary

Half dead dolphins found agency staff near the aviary. Dolphin could hardly stand on the water and tried to put his head on the wall.

Sergei Gulenko ("KP" - Crimea) - 05/08/2010

- Most likely, the animal sensed his fellows, who were in the aviary, and came to us for help - told the "KP" Head of Research Management Research Center MAT "State Oceanarium" Anatoly Ermolenko. - Delphine gave to inspect themselves. He was severely depleted, the left fin is damaged, difficult breathing ... He is about 10-15 years. Most likely, a dolphin caught in fishing nets and swallowed water. Injuries are very similar to wounds which are dolphins, approached the trawlers.

The animal is now in the aquarium. He received treatment, and already have the first results: the dolphin began to yourself to eat fish. Most likely, the full rehabilitation leave for several months, and then he is released back into the sea.

The fact that the dolphin swam up to the man, there is nothing supernatural, experts say, these animals are known for their intelligence and friendliness


http://kp.ua/daily/050810/238378/

Humpback cow and calf swim free after life-threatening entanglement

Humpback cow and calf swim free after life-threatening entanglement

August 03, 2010
Tuesday


(SitNews) - NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service received a report from fishermen last Tuesday that a mother and calf humpback whale had just gotten entangled in fishing gear off Point Baker in Sumner Strait, Southeast Alaska.


jpg Humpback cow and calf swim free after life-threatening entanglement

Humpback cow and calf swim free after life-threatening entanglement
Photo courtesy NOAA


The fishers sighted the mother humpback whale and her calf only moments before the whales hit the gillnet and became entangled. It appeared that the animals punched through (made contact with) the belly of the net and were entangled in only webbing as opposed to any lines. Unfortunately, both animals were wrapped up in a significant amount of netting such that they were tethered together lying side-by-side and almost touching-a life threatening situation for both mammals. The entanglement was too complex for the fishermen to attempt to free the whales without endangering themselves.

The fishers assisted operations by monitoring the animals until an experienced whale disentanglement response team from NOAA's Protected Resources Division in Juneau arrived on scene to lend a hand. NOAA scientists worked with the local fishermen to further assess the situation in order to determine the best plan of action.

While assessing and monitoring the animals, the whales worked free of each other and began to shed the fishing gear. After a few more hours, the adult female had shed all gear, and the calf had very small remnants of netting still caught on barnacles on its head and on the left side of its tail.

"The remaining gear on the calf would likely be shed within a day," said NOAA Marine Mammal Response Manager Ed Lyman. "The entanglement was no longer life threatening for either animal. They'll both be fine."

While the whales did not have to be cut free, NOAA credits the fishers in reporting, monitoring and assisting in the effort.

Disentangling a 40-ton whale is dangerous and should only be performed by experienced and authorized responders. Mariners are requested to report any sightings of whales in distress to the NOAA Fisheries Marine Mammal Hotline at (877) 925-7773.


http://www.sitnews.us/0810news/080310/080310_entanglement.html

Could a sperm whale sighted off Devon have a family?

Could a sperm whale sighted off Devon have a family?
By Jemima Laing
BBC Devon

Watch Dean Tapley's whale footage from June 2010

A new sighting of a sperm whale off the coast of Devon has been reported - but this time with a difference.

Ken Rowe thinks he saw not only the sperm whale, the subject of a number of recent sightings, but he believes he may have also seen a calf with it.

While "taking his morning constitutional" at Preston, Paignton at about 6.30 am on 5 August 2010 he spotted something in the water.

"I have never seen anything like it," said Ken, who lives in the resort.

"I was gazing out across the sea and watching the seabirds sat in the water washing their feathers.

"Then, about 150 yards offshore, I saw what looked like a dark shape at sea.

How to report a sperm whale sighting
Email sightings@seawatchfoundation.org.uk
Telephone 01545 561227

"It proceeded to breach the surface and blow.

"It was about three or four times the size of a normal dolphin - which I have seen quite often.

"Then I noticed what may have been a smaller one nearby - about a third of its size. "

Gemma Veneruso from the Seawatch Foundation said the sighting does sound like a sperm whale but is has not yet been confirmed by the charity.

"It would be very rare indeed to see a female at this high latitude," said Gemma.

"The sighting of the sperm whale was rare anyway but we would have expected it to be a male because of their distribution."


I'm going to go back there tomorrow and this time I'm taking my camera!

Ken Rowe

"There are a number of observers keeping their eyes peeled at the moment."

And she is urging anyone who spots anything to report it to the foundation.

"Photos or videos would really help confirm the ID and the calf."

This latest sighting chimes with the first reported by local man Dean Tapley.

He described back in June how a routine fishing trip off Torbay turned into an "awesome" experience after he spotted the whale.

Then Trevor Smart from Leicester says he saw it on 21 July when he was heading out from Torquay Harbour towards Brixham to catch mackerel.

Ken says he feels "really lucky" to have seen what he did.

"I suspect it will be a one-off in my lifetime but I'm going to go back there tomorrow and this time I'm taking my camera!"


http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/devon/hi/people_and_places/nature/newsid_8889000/8889674.stm

Whales sighted off Norfolk coast

Whales sighted off Norfolk coast

10 August 2010

Whale watchers have once again identified at least two northern bottlenose whales off Norfolk, says the marine research charity Sea Watch.

The charity, which is in the middle of its annual National Whale and Dolphin Watch which runs until August 15, first received reports the whales had been spotted from a boat, heading south west off the Wash on August 1.

They were then seen again on Thursday and yesterday morning.

Sea Watch Sightings Officer Gemma Veneruso said: “The latest sighting was much further inshore than the previous ones. They were between two sandbanks in the south of the Wash.

“These animals are normally found in deep waters in the North Atlantic. It is thought that some lose their way during the migration from the Norwegian Sea past the Northern Isles to the North Atlantic which is why we sometimes see these animals off the British coast - the whale that swam up the River Thames in 2006 was a northern bottlenose dolphin.

“We have some concerns about them stranding so would urge anyone who spots them to let us know “

During National Whale and Dolphin Watch, Sea Watch asks members of the public to send in their sightings of whales, dolphins or porpoises or to take part in a manned watch.

Details of how to take part in the National Whale and Dolphin Watch from land and sea are on the charity's website www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk along with details of how to send in pictures as part of the charity's Photo a fin ID campaign.

The 13 species most often seen in UK waters are: minke whale, fin whale, humpback whale, sperm whale, northern bottlenose whale, long-finned pilot whale, killer whale (orca), Risso's dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, white-beaked dolphin, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise.


http://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/content/yarmouthmercury/news/story.aspx?brand=GYMOnline&category=news&tBrand=GYMonline&tCategory=news&itemid=NOED10%20Aug%202010%2015:06:22:813

SeaWorld raising first newborn beluga whale


SeaWorld staff members use a tube to feed a special formula to a beluga whale calf Wednesday at the marine-themed park.


Sure, she’s cute. Come on, she’s a baby beluga whale. She’ll even swim on her back and blow bubbles.

Now nearly 2 months old, she weighs a healthy 139 pounds. Who couldn’t fall for this blubbery bundle of joy?

Well, her mother for one. Immediately after giving birth, she ignored her calf. SeaWorld San Diego — poised to celebrate the new addition — knew it had a problem.

Suddenly, it had to play mom.

The park’s marine mammal specialists have been doing so since her June 23 birth, caring for the calf in a pool behind the park’s beluga exhibit.

“We knew within a minute. It’s so unusual. Almost all the time, the animals here show interest” in their offspring, said Bill Winhall, assistant curator for mammals.

SeaWorld San Diego had a second problem. Beluga births at the facility are very rare. Only one other calf has been born there since 1997, when such whales first were put on exhibit. That occurred two years ago, and she was sickly at birth. She died soon after.

So while the park has a lot of experience in saving a wide range of sea mammals, it didn’t have much when it came to belugas.

“We’re ecstatic,” Winhall said about the success so far with their latest calf, which still needs to be named. “And we’re tired.”

No wonder.

They’ve had to hand-feed the calf with a syringe containing a special mixture of milk, fish oil, ground-up fish and heavy whipping cream. The cream is not for flavor. It’s got fat.

The staffers do this every two hours, 10 times a day, seven days a week. They have to get in the pool, gently pull their beluga to the side, hold her and put the tube into her mouth.

Actually, the feeding has been getting a lot easier.

For the first week, before they created the special formula, the marine specialists had to obtain some of the mother’s breast milk by using a pump. But it was important: They wanted the calf to get the all-important antibodies.

They stayed with the calf 24 hours a day.

Then, they got lucky. They introduced another adult female beluga to the calf, hoping the two would bond. Belugas are extremely social animals and it was vital that the newborn get such stimulation. So in swam Allua, a beluga whale that the park has on loan from the Vancouver Aquarium.

She had a history of befriending younger belugas. And wouldn’t you know it: Allua and the calf hit it off.

They glide together in the pool. One Sea World official calls Allua “auntie.”

In coming weeks, the calf will be introduced to the other three adult belugas at SeaWorld San Diego, including Ruby, her mother. Ruby also gave birth to the calf that didn’t survive.

Winhall has no idea why she ignored her calf at birth. He said the phenomenon also occurs in the wild.

At least one scientist questions that. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal expert with the Human Society of the United States, said a whale in the wild can be orphaned, but it’s normally because of a traumatic event such as a storm separating it from the mother.

A mother ignoring a calf is something that Rose doesn’t believe has been observed in the wild. “I can’t say that it hasn’t happened, but they can’t say it has happened.”

SeaWorld San Diego’s beluga exhibit is not centered on breeding. It’s an educational and conservation program, Winhall said. The exhibit does include two male and two female whales, and if they are so inclined ...

That the belugas are having sex shows the exhibit offers a healthy, stress-free environment, Winhall said.

It also means a surprise package can come along. A routine blood test in early 2009 revealed that Ruby had, well, that special glow.

The gestation period is 14 to 15 months, so the park had a lot of time to get the nursery ready. When the big moment arrived, SeaWorld officials were excited.

Little did they know they were about to take on a pretty arduous responsibility.

The little calf is still mostly gray. She won’t take on the familiar white beluga look for several years.

Soon, she’ll be eating fish. And soon — in maybe a couple of months — she’ll join the others in the park’s Wild Arctic exhibit.

Let’s hope mom has read some parenting books by then.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/11/seaworld-raising-first-newborn-beluga-whale/
There was an error in this gadget
There was an error in this gadget