Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Marine Mammal News Summer 2013 - REV

So far this summer, like many that went before it, has been a mixed bag for dolphins and their kin.

The summer started badly in this part of the world with what seems to have been the first death of a dolphin caused directly by a boat strike in the UK and resulting from people harassing a small school of dolphins that came close inshore in Cornwall.

There are some more details here  in the Huffington Post. There are photos of the body in existence (which seems to have been a juvenile) - but the body has not been retrieved and no culprit found, despite a reward being offered.

This must never happen again.

People need to appreciate that dolphins cannot get away from fast moving boats. There is some misunderstanding and I often hear people say something like 'if they did not like it they would leave'. In fact they have no choice, they need to come to the surface every few minutes to breath and young dolphins are especially vulnerable as they do not swim as well as adults. A large group of boat driving around a school must be a nightmare - a bit like you and the family being surrounded by thugs on a lonely road and the kids that you have with you mean any hope you have of running away is lost.

Please just watch them from a distance - if they come to your boat to bow-ride that is different; it is their choice but they do not always want to do this.

The summer has also been marred by Iceland's resumption of fin whale killing and a new threat from there that they might resume scientific whaling but this time focus on humpback whales. There is also a running debate there about feeding the world's poor with whale meat - here is a link to the rebuttal to this from within Iceland itself.

More positively, the USA has maintained its record of recent years of not importing any cetaceans after NOAA Fisheries denied an application to import 18 beluga whales for public display to the USA

See NOAA's press release HERE and the reaction from the Humane Society of the US HERE..


We are now in August and here in the UK the weather continues to be pleasantly summer-like.

But ... a very large number of pilot whales and white-sided dolphins have been killed in the Faroes Islands this summer. A coalition of groups has written to the Prime Minister of the Faroes Islands and other officials there in response - see article HERE

Elsewhere, and rather remarkably, a new terrestrial mammal has been discovered. It has been named olinguito and is the first new species of carnivore to be identified in the Western hemisphere in 35 years.
Story HERE.


Risso's dolphins finally make the news: after several years of painstaking research, Marijke de Boer and colleagues have published a paper giving the first ever population estimate for Risso's dolphins in the Irish Sea. The paper also shows that these illusive abimals regularly use the waters off Bardsey Island on the northern edge of Cardigan Bay as a breeding ground. Some of the news coverage can be seen here and here and the original paper is free online HERE.

The research also shows how relatively low cost research maintained over the years can be important. 

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