Killer whales are diving to record depths to pinch expensive catch from commercial fishing lines, expanding their role as an apex predator to the very depths of the ocean, Deakin researchers have found.

December 3, 2018

Dr Paul Tixier, a research fellow at Deakin’s Centre for Integrative Ecologywithin the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, is part of the research team that made the discovery while monitoring the dive behaviour of a killer whale (Orcinus orca) in subantarctic waters in South Georgia.

Researchers used satellite-linked location and dive-profile tags on the killer whale, which was taking Patagonian toothfish from commercial longlines – a fishing technique using a long line with baited hooks to capture target fish.

Patagonian toothfish are a deep-water fish and are considered a delicacy, with the majority of the fish caught legally by Australian boats sold overseas to Japanese, Chinese and US markets.

Dr Tixier said the results were striking, with the killer whale diving to 1087 metres – the greatest depth ever recorded for that species and around 300 metres deeper than previously recorded.

“The diving ability of the species has been underestimated, but we found the whales were diving significantly deeper and faster when taking from fishing lines compared to when foraging naturally,” he said . . . 

To read the FULL article please visit the Source Deakin.edu.au

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B.C. whale-watching group uses surcharge to boost salmon, science for killer whales

December 3, 2018

A British Columbia whale-watching organization is boosting its passenger surcharge to increase spending on science programs and salmon-recovery projects for killer whale conservation.

VICTORIA — A B.C. whale-watching organization is boosting its passenger surcharge to increase spending on science programs and salmon-recovery projects for killer whale conservation.

Prince of Whales Whale Watching says the conservation fee charged to passengers will rise from $2 to $5 and will be aimed at supporting the endangered southern resident killer whale population.

The company says in a news release the added fee is expected to generate more than $1 million over the next five years with the money going toward orca-based science programs and chinook salmon recovery projects, the preferred food of the resident whales.

Alan McGillivray, owner of the whale-watching company, says the southern resident population is struggling and one of the big reasons is reduced availability of prey.

There are just 74 remaining members of the southern residents that are often found in the waters off B.C. and Washington state.

Source: The Province.com

Experts Call for the Speedy Release of Killer Whales and Beluga Whales from the “Whale Prison” in Primorye

November 29, 2018

Experts believe that the killer whales and beluga whales kept in the bay of Central Primorsky Territory for sale in foreign aquariums should be released as soon as possible, otherwise they will die.

“Delay in releasing killer whales into the wild and in transferring the beluga whales to the rehabilitation regime, and the lack of public and expert control can lead to grave consequences for cetaceans. This is the general opinion of the experts, ”Dmitry Lisitsyn, head of the regional public organization (RPO) Sakhalin Environmental Watch, told Interfax-Far East.

According to him, the longer they sit in crowded conditions and in tight containers, the greater the likelihood of deterioration of their health from stagnant water, poor diet and stress.

  1. Lisitsyn stressed that according to the unanimous opinion of experts, killer whales should be released from the bay as soon as possible.

“They will still be able to find their families who have already left the area of ​​the Shantar Islands and are now migrating to the Kuril Islands and then to the more southern areas of the ocean,” he said.

He added that for belugas it is necessary to create an expert commission of scientists specializing in cetaceans, veterinarians of the aquarium, microbiologists, as well as divers and underwater operators.

“It is necessary to conduct a comprehensive survey of the white whales and clearly separate – who can be released now (who can survive in the wild conditions – IF) and those who need to be grown and adapted. The information gathered by the expert group should be provided to an even wider expert community “in order to make a common and most correct decision,” said D. Lisitsyn.

According to him, Medium Bay is quite suitable for adapting babies to belingas, since these conditions, in contrast to the aquarium, are more close to their natural habitat. As the kids grow, they could gradually expand open-air cages, launch wild fish, imitating hunting conditions, in order to release animals into the sea in the spring adapted to independent living. But according to scientists, other people should take care of belugas, but not trappers.

As reported, at the end of October, Greenpeace Russia and the Sakhalin Environmental Watch public organization stated that 11 killer whales and 90 belugas were illegally kept in the enclosures of Srednyaya Bay in the south of Primorsky Krai. According to zoodefenders, belugas and killer whales were brought to Primorye before being sold to foreign aquariums and zoos. SC initiated a criminal case under Part 3 of Art. 256 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal extraction of aquatic biological resources). On instructions from the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, specialists from the Pacific Oceanological Institute are examining animals to determine if they can be released into the wild.

Source: Maritime News of Russia

Article Found on Maritime Herald.com

THE COURT SEIZED ON THE ORCAS AND BELUGAS CAUGHT FOR SALE IN CHINA

November 24, 2018

The court seized on the orcas and belugas caught for sale in China The court in Vladivostok seized 11 orcas and belugas ‘ 90, discovered the animal in Nakhodka. Animal rights activists suggest that animals were caught for sale in China. The investigative Committee opened a criminal case on illegal fishing. About the arrest of the animals informed the city the site of Vladivostok Vl.ru and non-profit organization “marine mammal Council”. Judgement was delivered on 21 November, but became aware of it today from the letter to the Investigative Committee to Rosprirodnadzor. At the end of October it became known that in the Middle Bay in a remote area Finds contains 11 orcas and 90 Beluga whales caught in Russian waters. According to Russian Greenpeace, pet owners planned to sell them in Chinese aquariums. Commercial exploitation of dolphins is prohibited in Russia by law, but the animals were caught in the cultural and educational quota. The price of one orca in dolphinariums and aquariums China reaches from one to 15 million dollars. Catch animals has caused an outcry among environmentalists. November 16, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on illegal catch of whales and belugas. According to authorities, the mammals are young, and their prey is prohibited. On Thursday, the press service of the Agency, the Agency issuing quotas for the catch of marine animals, said that the Ministry warned the General Prosecutor’s office about the inadmissibility of violation of the law when granting rights to catch cultural and educational purposes. The Agency said in response that all quotas are issued legally.

Сообщение The court seized on the orcas and belugas caught for sale in China появились сначала на Latin script’s.

Source: duv-vest.com

Washington lands chief asks lawmakers for $90 million to improve habitat for orcas, salmon

November 21, 2018

If approved, a $90 million budget request to the Washington state legislature could aggressively tackle what’s needed to help Puget Sound’s southern resident orcas survive.

A request on Monday by Hilary Franz, the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands, would increase the money already being spent on restoring habitats for salmon, removing barriers that inhibit the fish from reaching their spawning ground; researching ocean acidification; and removing rundown vessels on waterways, according to an emailed statement from the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

The department’s previous two-year budget for similar programs and efforts cost the agency $55.5 million, according to Franz’s staff. The overall budget for the department last year was $351 million.

“The items that we’re calling for are not new,” Franz said in an interview. “We’ve been doing this work for our Puget Sound and rivers and lakes and ocean shorelines for quite some time. The difference is that we are asking for an increase in funding so we can rapidly accelerate this work because we don’t believe we have time to waste.”

The request directly addresses suggestions from Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca-recovery task force. The group issued a list of recommendations last week to save the animals, including breaching two dams to increase salmon returns and partly suspending southern resident whale-watching tours for up to five years. It includes $22 million in operating budget requests and $68 million for one-time capital budget projects.

The $90 million request comes amid heightened concerns for the critically endangered local orcas, which suffered three deaths over the summer and haven’t had any of their calves survive in three years due to the lack of chinook salmon and the effects of pollution and vessel traffic in Puget Sound.Advertisement (1 of 1): 0:12

“This is a key moment for us,” Franz said, “to stand up and say ‘Are we going to take action and prevent the demise and lose of our critical orca and salmon species?’ “

Franz is faced with the challenge of getting state legislators to approve her request, but she is confident now is the time to address the issue.

Source: TDN.com

Orca washed up on Auckland beach

March 14, 2017

The dead killer whale was found on Monday at Whatipu Beach, West Auckland.

An orca has washed up at Whatipu beach in West Auckland, possibly the victim of being hit by a boat.

The adult male whale was reported to the Department of Conservation on Monday, which then sought permission from local iwi to launch a post-mortem investigation.

Coastal-Marine Research Group Director Karen Stockin said photographs taken by Department of Conservation rangers showed possible blunt force trauma to the head.

“At this stage it’s too early to speculate what the cause of the trauma may be, although boat strike is an obvious consideration,” Stockin said.

A team from Auckland’s Massey University will examine the animal on Tuesday afternoon.

They aim to take a biological sampling of the animal to assess diet and pollution loads.

Orcas are considered “nationally critical” in New Zealand with known threats being fisheries interactions and boat strike.

Marine mammals in New Zealand are legally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (1978).

Anyone who accidentally kills or injures a marine mammal is required to report the incident to a fishery officer or the Department of Conservation within 48 hours.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Regulations (1992) vessels must avoid rapid changes in both speed and direction and not exceed speeds faster than the slowest mammal within 300 metres.

Vessels travelling at speeds over 15 knots are more likely to kill a whale or dolphin if they hit it and can still cause severe damage if travelling over five knots.

Source: Stuff.co.nz

2016 has been the deadliest year for orca whales

December 28, 2016

By: Dyer Oxley

Orca enthusiasts gathered on the shores of Seattle’s Akli Beach Tuesday evening to hold a candlelight vigil for those lost over the past year.

That’s because 2016 has been the deadliest year for Southern Resident killer whales in two decades.

Three Seattle vigils were held Tuesday to pay tribute to those lost and also to send a message to protect the surviving orca.

“This population of animals cannot afford to lose any more of their breeding females if we hope to see them in future years,” said vigil organizer Rachel Carbary.

“We could not save J34, J28, J54, L95, J14, or J55,” she said listing off the titles of the whales who died over the past year. “Let’s work together to save the rest.”

Southern resident orca

According to KIRO 7, not all of the six whales that passed away in 2016 have been found. Those who have been recovered died from various causes, including disease, blunt force trauma and starvation. The most recent death occurred last week. An orca washed up on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia.

There are only 79 Southern Resident orca left in the region. KIRO 7 reports that their diet consists of primarily Chinook salmon – a population that has decreased by half since the 1980s.

Orca advocates are urging state lawmakers to take steps to protect salmon and killer-whale populations, including removing dams on the lower Snake River where many fish spawn.

Source: MyNorthwest.com

Name an orca calf

April 29, 2017

Orca female SN200 with young calf - Photo: Orca Guardians Iceland

The calf was first spotted on 20 November along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, in Iceland, and is the latest offspring of female SN200 (West Iceland ID number), known in Scotland as 012.

The group of orcas spends the winter in Icelandic waters, while migrating south to Shetland and Scotland in the spring and summer.

In the past, both countries ran separate naming programs resulting in animals that travel between the two countries having two different names, often resulting in confusion when sightings were reported.

The naming contest has been organised by Orca Guardians Iceland, a non-profit killer whale research and conservation organisation based in West Iceland.

The contest will start on the 4 May on Orca Guardians Iceland’s Facebook page.

Firstly, the public is invited to send in naming suggestions for the calf. Four of these will be selected by an international panel of judges, then the public will have the opportunity to vote on four names and select their favourite, which will then be added to the West Iceland ID catalogue.

The judges come from the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project, Caithness Sea Watching/Orca Watch, Shetland Wildlife, and Orca Guardians Iceland. The contest runs until 19 May.

Hugh Harrop of Shetland Wildlife and creator of the Shetland Orca Sightings Facebook page said he was “absolutely delighted” to be involved.

“It is fantastic how the North Atlantic whale-watching community has pulled together. It’s a great way of raising awareness of these very special creatures,” he said.

A previous contest was won by pupils from Sunnyside Primary School, in Glasgow, who are raising awareness on cetacean conservation issues as part of their curriculum.

More information on the adoption program and the work of Orca Guardians Iceland can be found here.

Source: Shetnews.co.uk

Killer catalogue of Bremer population

April 27, 2017

Researchers have produced a catalogue of some of the killer whale population in the Bremer Canyon they hope will help track the health, population size and individual characteristics of the monochromatic mammals.

Scientists at the Centre for Marine Science and Technology at Curtin University have spent three years cataloguing Orcas based on their unique physical features such as their dorsal fin and markings.

PhD candidate Rebecca Wellard has worked on the Orca Research and Conservation Australia (ORCA) project from the beginning and said the best way to monitor killer whales and their ecosystem is to catalogue them.

“The dorsal fin is as unique as a human’s fingerprint,” she said.

“You can look at birth and survival rates and killer whales being an apex predator they are a proxy for the ecosystem, so they are a great animal to look at if you want to look at the whole system,” she said.

Ms Wellard said there was still little known about the killer whale populations in Australia and this project would go a long way to understanding how many killer whales are in Australian waters and how far they travel around the coast.

“We know they are off the coast off Bremer Bay during the summer but we don’t know where they go where they come from,” she said.

“By releasing the catalogue the public can compare any photos they take of killer whales from around the country and see if we can match them to the ones in the Bremer area.”

There are 81 killer whales in the catalogue with more than 20 to be added very soon and it is hoped that citizen scientists will submit their photographs to be included in the catalogue project.

Ms Wellard said scientists were still working to understand the population and abundance of killer whales and this catalogue was one step towards that goal.

The online catalogue can be found at the Curtin University Centre for Marine Science and Technology website and citizen scientist’s photographs can be submitted via orcatalkoz@gmail.com

Source: The West.com

Killer whale sighted in Puerto Galera

April 23, 2017

The sighting of a killer whale in Puerto Galera, a town in Oriental Mindoro and a popular tourist destination in Luzon, has caught the attention of marine wildlife-conservation advocates.

The fascinating marine mammal, about 7 meters long, was photographed and posted on Facebook (FB) through the account of Kai Tagaki, who first thought it was a dolphin jumping up and down.

Posted on April 18, at 12:38 p.m., the FB post was shared 383 times as of this writing and drew various reactions.

One FB comment expressed fear that it might attack humans. Another comment said the sighting is a good sign—and that the health of the marine ecosystem is improving.

Except for the photo, not much information was provided in the FB. Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the report needs to be verified, although she said the killer whale could have been following its prey and found itself in that part of the Philippine waters.

She said it might have other companions, because killer whales are known to travel in groups during migration and while hunting preys.

“It may be after a prey and somehow got lost. But they usually hunt in group,” said Lim, who cautioned fishermen against hunting it down.

The largest among dolphin species, killer whales feed on almost anything they can find—including tuna, dolphins, sharks and even whale sharks. But it has no record of attack on humans.

The Philippines is a member of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, which include marine wildlife like sea turtles, dolphins, sharks and whales.

The Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (MWWP), a non-governmental organization that advocates marine-wildlife conservation and their habitat in the Philippines, shared the post.

The group monitors illegal fishing or hunting of threatened marine wildlife, particularly those on the critically endangered list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

AA Yaptinchay, executive director of MWWP, said sightings of orca, or killer whale, is not new in the Philippines. While saying that a killer whale having been photographed is very rare, their sightings is not new.

“There are records of sightings of orca before. It is the most cosmopolitan among all whales,” he said. Orcas, or killer whales, belong to the dolphin family, he said.

Yaptinchay said unless they are captured or harmed, killer whales do not attack humans.

“There is no record of them eating humans,” he said.

He said it is not in orca’s nature to feed on human, although it feasts large fish species and preys almost on anything it can feed on—including deadly sharks.

Yaptinchay said the sightings of the killer whale should be a wake-up call to concerned government agencies to intensify monitoring of Philippine seas.

“Only 30 percent of our seas have been surveyed so far,” he said.

The group said conducting surveys will reveal how rich the Philippine seas is, and what we stand to lose in failing to protect our marine areas against destructive human activities.

Hunting of marine wildlife, he said, remains unchecked despite local and international laws prohibiting such acts of terrorism against these amazing creatures of the sea.

Source: Business Mirror.com