Thursday, 30 September 2010

LA gets rare glimpse of Blue Whales


Blue whales have been spotted swimming a few miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Fishermen working in the area say it is the first time they have ever seen the world's largest mammal swimming so close to the shoreline.

Marine biologist Alisa Schulman Janiger estimates that around 200 blue whales are currently in the area. She says an abundance of krill near the shore means the blue whales are swimming closer to land. Sian Williams reports.

Video at link.


Second whale birth reported in Derwent

There have reports of another southern right whale being born in Hobart's River Derwent. Hobart historian and author Michael Tatlow says he witnessed the spectacle from his Battery Point house on Tuesday.

Mr Tatlow says he initially thought he saw an overturned hull. "A minute or two later it squirted water and I realised it was a whale," he said.

"I know enough about whales, it was a right whale and I got the binoculars on it and shortly after I saw a reddening in the water around it and then a baby whale appeared. This right whale had given birth."

Mr Tatlow says three members of another family also saw the birth.

A southern right whale was born off Taroona Beach last month, the first reported birth since commercial whaling ended in the mid 1800s.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Killer whales attack humpback off Oregon Coast, say experts

NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon researchers have been studying a large humpback whale that died and washed up on the coast near Newport just hours after they believe it was attacked by a group of killer whales.

The 35-foot adult, male humpback had rake marks and teeth marks on it, which appeared to match the telltale signs of killer whale attacks, according to Jim Rice with the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Rice said researchers collected samples of the whale, took photos and measured it. Then, it was buried by Oregon State Parks. It had washed up near Lost Creek State Park, about seven miles south of Newport. Rice said gray whales are the most common species spotted along the Oregon Coast and it’s not unusual for a pod of killer whales to attack a young gray whale.

However, humpback whales are less common in that area and it was unusual for killer whales to attack such a large humpback.


Shiloh died at National Aquarium in Baltimore

The gentle bottlenose dolphin that was the mother of the first dolphin calf to be born at the National Aquarium in Baltimore in 1992 died over the weekend after doctors and technicians worked for about a year to nurse her through an array of illnesses. Aquarium officials estimated that the dolphin, named Shiloh, was 31 years old.

"It's an incredibly difficult time" for members of the aquarium staff who care for the dolphins, said Brent Whitaker, deputy director of biological programs at the aquarium. "These animals become their families. … Anybody who has an animal or a pet knows what we're talking about."

He said Shiloh, who measured 9 feet long and about 400 pounds, was not responding to treatments and had stopped eating before doctors made the decision to have her euthanized. She died in the medical pool late Sunday morning surrounded by three doctors, two veterinary technicians and eight trainers. Whitaker said doctors who specialize in comparative medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are conducting an autopsy.

He said tests conducted over the past few months showed that Shiloh — one of the first six dolphins to be displayed in the new Marine Mammal Pavilion when it opened in 1990 — was suffering from an infection and iron storage disease. He said "next to nothing" is known about iron storage disease in dolphins, but it appeared that Shiloh was accumulating excessive amounts of iron in her liver, and treatments had begun about a year ago.

She was one of the aquarium's nine dolphins, ranging in age from 2 to 38 years. Whitaker and Sue Hunter, director of animal programs, said life expectancy for a bottlenose dolphin is about 25 years.

Shiloh was captured in the Gulf of Mexico in 1981 and was estimated to be 2 or 3 years old at the time, said Whitaker. The dolphin was captured in the wild, a practice condemned by animal rights groups. Whitaker said the aquarium's policy has since changed, and "we don't condone capture of bottlenose dolphins for display."

Hunter described Shiloh as a "gentle" and "calm" dolphin who was attentive to the other dolphins and helped to raise the calves born at the aquarium, showing "very motherly behavior and instincts."

In March 1992, Shiloh gave birth to Chesapeake, the first dolphin to be born at the aquarium.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Baby Dolphin dies

Just after 10.00 hours on the Dolphinarium divers saw a dolphin tail to Naomi. Less than three minutes later the youngster was born. Immediately after the birth went wrong.Mother Naomi took care not about the young calf which had difficulty breathing on his motion. After mother and young are taken apart, the baby dolphin for a few hours while swimming supported by a caregiver.

Just before 15.00 hours breathing deteriorated rapidly after the newborn died young a few minutes later in front of his caretakers. The mood among staff is down and sad.

The birth of Naomi dolphin was the second in a short time in the Dolphinarium. On August 21 Kai was born male. Nynke He and his mother are doing well.

On the death of a baby dolphin

On September 26, 2010 at the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, Anne gave birth but sadly the baby died shortly after birth.
It is thought that the baby dolphin is probably considerably smaller than immature individuals and the size of normal birth weight at birth length.
The cause of death will be a detailed survey and are currently pursuing the cause.

Data of the baby dolphin
Gender: male,
length: 119cm,
Weight: 16.0kg
(Average size at birth for Bottlenose dolphins: Length: 130cm, Weight 30.0kg)

Ann became pregnant in Fall 2009 (estimated 13 years old female).
Peace is the father (12 years old male estimates)

September 26, 2010
Anne's water broke at 10:19
Start out baby dolphin tail fin min 22:19
39 minutes at birth
Check at 53 minutes, baby dolphin deaths

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Seaworld welcomes new dolphin calf

A THREE-WEEK-OLD dolphin born at Seaworld will brighten people's lives when she grows up and she doesn't even know it yet.The unnamed calf, born on September 2, is the third dolphin arrival at the theme park this year and once old enough, will be part of Seaworld's interactive dolphin team.

She will play with special needs children, teach schoolchildren about dolphins and swim with Seaworld visitors. Marine mammal trainer Erin King said the calf had arrived earlier than expected, but was settling in fine. ''She is having a ball playing with the other two calves -- we have regular visitors coming in weekly just to see them,'' she said.

''At the moment they are just learning how to use their bodies, so we're seeing a lot of all-over-the-place acrobatic activity from the three baby girls. ''All three girls will be in the park's interactive program and will definitely make a difference in peoples' lives.'' The new calf's mum, 10-year-old Zippa, is a first-time mum but is already protective of her bub. Ms King said Zippa never let the baby out of her sight.

''Dolphins can be a lot like humans; it's interesting to watch those maternal instincts just kick in,'' she said.

''We encourage everyone to come in and check out our new addition.

''She was born at 10kg and could get up to 160kg, so she has a lot of growing to do.''

Gold Coasters can also have a go at choosing a name for the bub at the Today Show's competition website


6 dolphins arrive in China by air from Japan

Six dolphins have arrived in Beijing by air from Japan, Chinese state-run television reported Sunday. CCTV said the dolphins—two Pacific White-sided Dolphins and four Bottlenose Dolphins—have passed quarantine examination and been moved to the city’s ocean park to begin a 30-day period of isolation and inspection.

It said each dolphin arrived in a special water tank 3 meters long and 1 meter wide.

Japanese in some remote coastal fishing communities kill or capture hundreds and even thousands of dolphins from September until April each year. Most dolphins are killed for their meat, but much higher prices can be fetched by the selling of live dolphins to aquariums around the world for use in captive dolphin shows as well as for ‘‘swim-with-dolphins’’ programs.


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Baby dolphin named for 'leaping water'

It's taken six months but the baby dolphin born at Sea World on the Gold Coast in February finally has a name, and her carers say it's been worth waiting for.

The name Tallulah, meaning "leaping water" in a native American language, was suggested for the female calf by Stacey Taverna, from Moama in NSW, as part of a national competition sponsored by Eveready Dolphin torches.

Ms Taverna said she chose the name because she thought it would suit a beautiful baby dolphin. Sea World trainers Erin King and Alana Keane said Tallulah is a perfect match for the calf's playful personality.


NOTE: The calf was born to Hallie at Sea World Australia on February 9, 2010.

Bottlenose dolphin calf dies in Tampere

The dolphin calf that was born in the Särkänniemi Dolphinarium on Monday of last week has died. According to preliminary information, the calf died of a sudden bout of illness. It could take weeks to find out the precise cause of death.

The Särkänniemi Dolphinarium was opened in 1985. Over the years, more than ten of the calves born in the dolphinarium have died, says Timo Rahunen, the director of the Dolphinarium and Planetarium.

According to Rahunen, the calf mortality rate is high even among dolphins in the wild, where most of the calves do not survive to their first birthday. The Särkänniemi Dolphinarium will stay closed to the public at least until the end of this week.

Animalia, a Federation for the Protection of Animals, hopes that Särkänniemi would give up its attempts to increase its dolphin population. Executive Manager Sakka Tuomivaara says that the bare concrete pools do not offer the intelligent mammals good enough conditions.

The import of dolphins into Finland has been forbidden since 1998.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Gulf World announces Third Baby Dolphin Birth in a Month

Gulf World Marine Park is proud to announce the third birth in a three-week period of an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. Indie, an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin, gave birth at 9:05 pm on Saturday September 11, 2010. At this time, we cannot confirm if the baby is a male or female, we will announce the sex after confirmation.

Indie and her calf are presently housed with Brinnon and Sandy that gave birth a few days ago. All six dolphins are doing well and the moms seem to be working together to care for the little ones.

Traditionally we will wait ten days before naming any new baby. The first ten days are very critical for the mom and calf to bond. This time period allows the mom to teach the baby important skills that it needs to survive. As you know, the baby born on Aug 23rd was named Striker and the second born on Aug 31st has been named Jett. We will be announcing the name of the third baby in a few days.

Gulf World’s Veterinarian and marine mammal staff will continue monitor all six dolphins very closely.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Second dolphin born at Mediterraneo Park

The Mediterraneo park at Bahar Ic-Caghaq has announced the birth of the second dolphin to be delivered at its tanks in as many months. It has also announced a competition where it is inviting children to give names to the two newborns.

The second calf , a male, was born on August 8 to Estrella, which, like Onda, which gave birth to a male on July 20, was brought to Malta from the waters around Cuba several years ago. The proud father in both cases is Lucas.

Paulo Pedroli park manager, said the park had put off the announcement of the birth because the first month was crucial and ‘mother and baby' needed to be closely monitored by experts. They were separated from other dolphins during that period and only put in the same tank as the other mother and calf a few days ago.

Marineland Ltd, the company that runs the Mediterraneo Marine Park, has been following a species propagation programme. Veterinary surgeons, trainers, biologists, voluntary workers and the staff at the park had been closely followed the gestation of Onda and Estrella, for whom these were the first births. No other births are planned for the near future.

Mr Pedroli said the park would be reducing the frequency of its shows and instead placing added focus on educational programmes, informing visitors about dolphins.The park now has seven dolphins.

He said that children participating in the naming competition were being allowed free entrance to the park until the end of next month. Adults would pay the reduce fee of €10.50c. The competition winners will become symbolic godfathers or godmothers of the dolphins.

Asked about public reaction to keeping dolphins in captivity - with somebody having complained that this was like a slave giving birth on a plantation - Mr Pedroli said this was a subject which needed to be discussed by experts.


Saturday, 11 September 2010

L72 and calf San Juan Island Sept. 10, 2010

Sept. 10, San Juan Island:
This morning we encountered L72 and L105 carrying a dead killer whale calf off the west side of San Juan Island. We followed the whales for just over 6 hours, and most of the time the calf was not visible, but on occasion L72 would lift the calf out of the water when she was surfacing. When we were able to see the calf L72 appeared to either be pushing it in front of her balanced on her rostrum or would be carrying the calf on the top of her head, but the calf was negatively buoyant, so had probably not been dead for long. Although L105, L72's ~6 year old son, was within 50 or 100 m for most of the time, we did not see L105 interacting with the dead calf. Based on the size of the calf (approximately 6-7') we suspect it was near-term but no way to know whether it was stillborn or born alive and died shortly afterward. Upon surfacing L72 would frequently appear to 'drop' the calf and both whales would stop and dive deep to recover it. From the photos it appears the calf was a female, and the umbilical is still attached and clearly visible. When we left the whales early this evening L72 still had the calf with her.

We will be out early hoping to re-locate the group, but it would be very good for folks on the water tomorrow to be on the lookout for the dead calf, L72 and L105, or the placenta (which should float and would be of great value to collect).
Robin Baird, Cascadia Research, Olympia, WA

(Source: Orca Network E-Newsletter Reports)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Bottlenose dolphin gives birth to calf in Tampere

A happy event occurred in the Särkänniemi Dolphinarium on Monday evening when one of the attraction’s female bottlenose dolphins gave birth to a calf. The calf is said to be doing well, as is its 32-year-old mother, Veera.

So far the calf’s sex is still unclear as the dolphinarium wants to allow the mother and the calf to get accustomed to each other in peace and practice breastfeeding. Even the pictures of the newcomer have been taken from behind a glass wall. Previously two new-born bottlenose dolphin calves have survived in Särkänniemi.
Annually around 270,000 people visit the Tampere attraction.


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Hisaronu Dolphins to be released

photo bdmlr/bff/SAD
Misha and Tom in their temporary seapen

Monday 6th September

Following a dramatic 48 hours of negotiations, the Born Free Foundation has secured the release of the two dolphins, Tom and Misha.

The plight of the dolphins has made international news since they were placed in a small concrete swimming pool in the Turkish town of Hisaronu, from where local campaign group, the Dolphin Angels, arranged a massive Facebook protest and an ongoing street presence, calling for their release.

The appalling conditions in the pool caused many to fear for the deteriorating health of the dolphins and to speculate as to whether they would survive their ordeal. Water samples taken by experts revealed harmful bacterial counts ten times higher than would be permissible under internationally accepted marine mammal standards. Meanwhile, SAD (Underwater Research Society), a Turkish NGO, has been pushing relevant governmental departments since July with supporting reports and proofs so that the dolphins must be confiscated by the government and handed over to NGOs which will carry out rehabilitation.

More Information

12-year-old orca dies at SeaWorld in San Diego

Sumar was born at a SeaWorld park and was brought to SeaWorld San Diego in February 2001 when SeaWorld Ohio was closed. A necropsy will be done at SeaWorld San Diego to determine the cause of death. Tissue samples will be sent out for examination, but the findings could take weeks. Male killer whales have a life expectancy of 30-60 years.

Both "Believe" killer whale shows were canceled Tuesday, but will resume on Wednesday. SeaWorld San Diego now has six killer whales.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Killer whale evolution leads to two orca species

Orcas, commonly known as killer whales, are still evolving, and quickly.

Researchers have discovered that two distinct types of orca, a large and a pygmy form, are rapidly diverging, evolving away from each other.

The scientists' study reveals each type of orca carries a unique gene mutation that benefits its particular lifestyle.

The genetic change has occurred in the past 150,000 years, adding to evidence that the orcas are quickly evolving into two distinct species.

Details of the research are published in the journal Biology Letters by an international team of scientists led by orca expert Dr Andrew Foote of the Natural History Museum of Denmark based at the University of Copenhagen.

Energetic lifestyles

The orcas studied live in Antarctic waters, and are known as type B and type C orcas.

The dwarf type C orca
Type Bs are one of the largest forms of orca known and primarily feed on seals.

Type Cs, in contrast, are known as a dwarf-form of orca, and feed mainly on fish.

These differences in size and diet, as well as each type having distinct markings, has led Dr Foote and colleagues to previously propose that they could be two separate species.

Genetic evidence now backs that idea.

Dr Foote and his team analysed the mitochondrial genomes of 15 type B and 36 type C orcas, specifically looking at a gene known as cytochrome B, a gene that plays a significant role in the orca's mitochondria, the structures within cells that govern energy production and metabolism.

They found that type B and type C orcas have evolved different amino acids within this gene, that affect its performance.


Dr Andy Foote and colleagues have previously revealed that there is not one but two types of killer whale living in UK waters
Killer whales create and visit social clubs just like people do
Watch wild orcas in action
All type B orcas have replaced one type of amino acid with another at a place on the gene known as site 279, and type Cs had replaced another amino acid at site 193.

"The mutation has spread throughout each type, so that all type B individuals we analysed the DNA for had the mutation and almost all of the type C individuals had the other mutation," says Dr Foote.

He explains how this mutation could be benefiting each type of orca.

"The gene under selection is important in producing energy for the body's cells, and so the mutations are probably linked to the metabolic requirements of these two types.

"Both types live in the Antarctic pack ice and therefore the low temperature of this habitat could be one selective pressure.

But the two mutations should have the opposite effect on metabolism to one another suggesting divergent evolution."


Visit Biology Letters to read more about the evolution of orcas
For example, type C is a dwarf killer whale morph reaching lengths of just over 6m, whereas type B is one of the largest killer whale morphs, being up to 50% larger than type C.

"So body size could also be the selective force on the gene linked to metabolism," Dr Foote told the BBC.

Neither mutation can be found in what is thought to be the mitochondrial genome of the orcas' recent ancestor.

That suggests the natural selection has fixed these mutations very quickly, and they appeared since type B and type C orcas diverged from their most recent common ancestor 150,000 years ago.