Thursday, 29 September 2011

White Whale spotted in North

UPDATE: A WHITE whale calf spotted off the Whitsundays coast is believed to be just a few weeks old but it's impossible to tell yet whether the animal is related to Migaloo.

Species expert Mark Read, of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said without DNA information experts would be unable to link the calf to the other famous white whale.

``It would be pure speculation, we would have to get genetic material from the calf and then analyse that and its relationship to Migaloo,'' he said.

``We know from basic genetics that this animal could have come from a dark mum and dark father and Wayne Fewings, who took the photograph, said the female was in attendance was a standard dark humpback.''

Wayne Fewings captured the white calf on camera while diving near the entrance to Cid Harbour last week.

Mr Fewings, who calls both the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast home, said he and his son's family were in a 4.5m runabout boat when the white calf, believed to be around 4m in length, and two predominantly black adult humpback whales swam towards them.

The calf raised its head out of the water and then dived before coming within four or five metres of the runabout.

One of the adult whales then swam over and guided the calf away while Mr Fewings and his family looked on in amazement and took photographs.

``We saw this pod of whales and the calf and saw them frolicking so we stopped the boat and that's when the action happened,'' he said.

``The calf, being a silly pup, when he popped his head out and saw the boat I think that excited his interest and he started to come towards us but his mother didn't like that too much so she got him away but we managed to capture all the photos.''

He said the calf's white colour made it easily visible below the blue waters of the Whitsundays.

``When it was porpoise diving, I managed to capture about three quarters of the back and the tail and then you can see the head quite clearly under the water because it's so white.''

Mr Read said the white colouring was caused by genetics, which left the whale without melanin.

He said it was likely the calf was born in the last few weeks in the area around Cairns.

``From the photographs we can gather that it's probably five to six metres long and one of the things we can see is the dorsal fin is not laid over, it's fully erect, so we can say it's not a newborn calf a couple of weeks old and it's most likely it was born on the northern Great Barrier Reef probably either north of Cairns or somewhere close to Cairns.''

Mr Fewings' daughter-in-law Rebecca, who was in the runabout with husband Gene and their children Baxter, 3, and Ryder 12 months, said it was amazing to see the whale in its element in the natural environment.

"We saw a lot of black whales while we were out there and it looked like a dolphin at first and all of a sudden then it started breaching," she said.

"It started coming up and showing his belly and then towards the end it started flapping its tail."

Humpback whales are a common sight off the coast of North Queensland with about 14,000 migrating between Australia and Antarctica each year.

Mr Read said between 10 and 15 of these whales were white or predominantly white.

The last official sighting of Migaloo was by a cargo ship crew on August 10 about 10km north of Pipon Island in Far North Queensland, according to the White Whale Research Centre.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Pilot Whale 300 Moves to SeaWorld Orlando

The two remaining survivors of a pilot whale stranding near Cudjoe Key in May have been reunited at SeaWorld of Orlando.

The 1,010-pound adult female known as 300 was placed in a sling and lifted by crane into a truck equipped with a water-filled tank for transport from the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo to Orlando late Sunday.

SeaWorld said the marine mammal made the trip without incident. The whale has been placed in a pool with 301, the pilot whale calf that was transported from the Marine Mammal Conservancy to SeaWorld in late July.

A total of 23 pilot whales stranded May 5 off Cudjoe Key. Most died at the scene, but two adult males were healthy enough to be returned to deep water.

Five remaining whales were transported to the MMC for treatment, but three were either euthanized or died, leaving 300 and 301.

301 was the youngest survivor. It's been renamed Fredi by SeaWorld and weighs about 900 pounds. Apparently healthy, Fredi was deemed too young to have learned survival skills essential to survive in the open water.

The larger animal, 12 feet long, suffers from curvature of the spine and lung problems. "Her injuries are too severe to withstand the rigors of survival in the wild," according to Micah Brodsky, MMC's staff veterinarian.


Nalu Gives Birth at Dolfinarium Harderwijk

AMSTERDAM - The Dolphinarium dolphin Nalu has given birth to a healthy young. Although the first days after childbirth are critical for mothers and young carers and veterinarians are very satisfied with the first night. The baby is visible to the public.

The young suckle well and mother is very vigilant and alert. The genus has not been established. Caregivers observe the next day 24 hours a day. They look especially on breathing, suckling and the general behavior of Nalu and her cub.

Just after 22:30 on Monday 12 September of the Dolphinarium night guards discovered early childbirth. More than one hour later, just before noon, swam around a little babydolfijntje between 22 other dolphins in their habitat. Caretakers and night watchmen were witnessing the birth. Because the habitat of dolphins both above and under water can be seen, both visitors and carers and young mothers clearly.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Nea Dies at Brookfield Zoo in Freak Accident

The youngest of Brookfield Zoo’s seven dolphins died Monday in what zoo officials called a “freak accident,” apparently as a result of a fractured skull from a collision with another dolphin.

The accident happened just before Nea, a 4-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, was due to perform in the zoo’s 1 p.m. show.

No one saw what happened, but her trainers heard a loud pop and jumped into the water. They found Nea unresponsive and attempted CPR. Veterinary staff arrived within 10 minutes to assist, but they were not able revive the dolphin.

Preliminary results of an animal autopsy performed later Monday indicated a fractured skull. Zoo experts believe that Nea received her fatal injuries from colliding with another dolphin rather than a hard fixed object, which would have caused scrapes or bruises.

“We checked for all those signs, and there was absolutely nothing else there,” said Bill Zeigler, senior vice president of animal care and collections. “So whatever she hit, it was a soft object. It wasn’t the side of a pool which would be hard. That kind of abrasion would have shown up.”

Five of the seven dolphins are younger, Zeigler said. “They’re like a bunch of kids running around. We just think they happened to collide.”

Nea’s death “devastated” the workers who cared for her, said Rita Stacey, curator of marine mammals.

“She was a wonderful animal to work with. Anybody who had worked with her just instantly fell in love with her. She was a very fun-loving, very cooperative animal. She always wanted to work with and play with the trainers,” Stacey said.

Shows were canceled but will resume Tuesday.


Aquarium Rescues Harbour Porpoise

On September 5th, a harbour porpoise was admitted to MMR. The approximate two month old, male porpoise was found stranded on Cortez Island and was flown to the centre for rehabilitaion. He was kept comfortable in his own pool and held up with a floatation device built especially for porpoises, with staff and volunteers working around the clock to save this little marine mammal. Despite all the hard efforts and exeptional care he was given, his tiny body was no longer able to keep fighting and we lost him on September 7th. A full necropsy will be performed by the Animal Health Centre