31st dead grey whale spotted off west coast this year

News continues to worsen for marine mammals on the west coast. In addition to terrible domoic acid poisoning for seals and sea lions, whales are passing away at a record rate.

HuffPo:

Thirty-one dead gray whales have been spotted along the entire West Coast since January — the most for this time of year since 2000. Dozens more have shown visible signs of malnourishment, and sightings of mother-calf pairs are down significantly.

Frances Gulland, a research associate at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, estimates that gray whale deaths could hit 60 or 70 by the end of the season.

“If this continues at this pace through May, we would be alarmed,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

Marine scientist Steven Swartz said 23% of the whales without calves his team has observed in Baja’s San Ignacio Lagoon this year were skinny. That’s more than three times higher than usual.

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Girl calls over dolphins using a comb and a toothpick

Using a black plastic comb and a simple wooden toothpick, a girl beckoned some captive dolphins from the other side of their windowed prison.

Her dad, Brad Meszaros, writes:

My daughter tried several different ways to have the Seaworld dolphins come to her. She tried different toys, a cell phone, tapping the glass, and different movements, none of these worked consistently for her. She did some online research and found the comb method and thought she’d give it a try. The next time she went to SeaWorld, she played the comb for the dolphins and they loved it!

Clever, but SeaWorld? Seriously...? Are we still taking our kids there?

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Last-ditch plan to save 30 remaining vaquitas, earth's tiniest porpoises

Vaquita CPR is the international effort to save the "pandas of the sea," critically endangered and super-cute vaquitas, the earth's smallest species of porpoises. Only 30 are believed to live in their range in the northern Gulf of California. Read the rest

US Navy's sonar use violates Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Navy have been blasting the sea with louder than rock concert sounds, hunting for Red October. Apparently the U.S. Navy hasn't done enough to ensure its sonar technology isn't hurting whales tho. Regardless this decision being overturned, the Navy had already planned to phase out much of the harmful sound.

Via Vocativ:

“The Court of Appeals understood that the Navy can do more to reduce the risk of its powerful long-range sonar, especially in the vast reaches of the ocean where too little is known,” Michael Jasny of the National Resource Defense Council, one of several organizations behind suit, said in a statement. “Ignorance is no excuse for inaction where commonsense safeguards recommended by the government’s own scientists can prevent avoidable harm.”

The court’s ruling will send both parties back to a district court for further consideration. But time may well run out on the NMFS’s decision anyway; it expires in 2017. The Navy has already agreed to limit its use of sonar in certain locations starting in 2018. Soon, the only waves in the ocean will be the natural ones made of water, not man-made ones that come from sound.

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Rare ocean encounter between sperm whale and remotely operated vehicle caught on video

About two thousand feet (598 meters) below the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, remotely operated vehicle Hercules encountered a magnificent sperm whale. Read the rest