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Whales: their survival depends on human action

 
 
littlek
 
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 06:55 pm
I have been on quite a few Whale Watches in the last 4 decades. What we tend to see up here are humpback and minke whales. My most recent WW was last Friday when we went with 300, or so, 7th graders to the Stellewagan Bay Sanctuary located in the waters North of the Cape Cod Bay. I have a strong sense of importance attached to whales and their continuing survival. Periodically I get newsletters from conservation groups and I am always sucked into articles about whale populations and whale health.

Sonar communication (maybe developed using what was known about cetacean communication) is disrupting the health of the cetacean populations (not just whales, but also porpoises and dolphins). We are using the same bandwidth that whales use to hunt as well as communicate. It confuses their senses enough to block their sonar-location of food sources and has, studies show, left many individuals/pods to die of starvation.

Whaling continues in many countries despite the largely world-wide ban on the practice. More needs to be done to protect those species with small numbers facing extinction and inbreeding. Many whale populations have rebounded, but not enough to ease up bans on their slaughter.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 06:57 pm
@littlek,
Like I said above, we have a lot of fairly social humpbacks in our NE waters. When I see this species, I think "wow. big." But, they are peanuts ranking mid-size on a chart of the relative sizes of whales. I'd love to see some larger species in person some day. With a little world effort, I will have the opportunity.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/guides/456900/456973/img/1180603645.gif
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farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 07:06 pm
@littlek,
I love to watch whales. We would often just idle (keeping engine running so they always know where we are) and put a zodiac overthe side and slowly move parallel to a pod , we never attempt to get close but often the whales will come over to us. Minkes and Finbacks are not so curious as to come too close, but a humpback will often come within 50 feet and roll over and take a look at us. Whenever this happens, I especially like it if we have some kids with us, the whales and we as people get a feeling of mutual recognition. Bristles my neck hair.
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 07:11 pm
@farmerman,
Yeah! The bristling hair. Goosebumps. It'd be so amazing to see them from a small boat.

We had a great WW on Friday. We saw breaching which is rare enough, we also saw double, synchronized breaching with cow and calf. Spectacular! We saw lobtailing and spyhopping, too. I'd never seen anything beyond a sort of half-assed fin slap.
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farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 07:14 pm
spyhopping? what means this word?
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 07:20 pm
@farmerman,
tsk. It's a 7th-grade vocab word. When a whale (or any acean, I'd guess) pushes its head straight up out of the water so that he can see out over the surface of the water.

spyhop:
http://www.alaska-in-pictures.com/data/media/3/whale-spyhopping-in-ocean_3728.jpg
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Sep, 2008 03:53 pm
@littlek,
You can get an earful of whale sound through WBUR. Whales are talking to each other in the ocean within 100 miles of NYC. And humans are listening.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94715152
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