Famous transient killer whale Chainsaw (T063) spotted in Sooke waters

April 22, 2017

Paul Pudwell of Sooke Coastal Exploration notified us that world famous transient killer whale “Chainsaw” (formally T063) was spotted by his crew today (April 22), in Sooke waters. This whale has not seen for years. Last time Paul saw it in this area was three years ago.

T063 is nicknamed “Chainsaw,” because of the shape of his dorsal fin.

Following is the Sooke Coastal Exploration post on Facebook, along with access to their full gallery of this rare sighting.

Source: Sooke.Pocket News.ca

Watch: Killer whale spotted in UAE waters

Ministry of Environment warn residents that hefty fines will be imposed if migrating orcas are harmed

April 19, 2017

Dubai: Authorities have issued a cautionary message to residents not to panic if they see a killer whale in the sea – they will not attack you.

A killer whale was recently spotted at a beach in Umm Al Quwain, and the video has gone viral on Twitter, with many social media users retweeting the video clip.

However, a number of social media users were quick to raise concern over how dangerous the whales can be, leaving the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to emphasise that a heavy fine will be imposed on anyone that harms these animals.

According to a statement issued in Arabic, Mona Omran Al Shamsi, acting director of Department for Biological Diversification at the ministry, clarified that killer whales are also known as orcas, and is one of the largest of dolphins.

“These dolphins do not pose any type of threat to the lives of fishermen or swimmers, and feed on marine mammals, such as fish and seals. Their curiosity will attract them to get close to beaches and while they do not show any type of aggression but like any kind of animal, they do defend themselves in dangerous events,” said Al Shamsi.

There have been very few cases of orca attacks in the wild and most marine biologists believe that in most cases such attacks are a case of mistaken identity, says WhaleFacts.org, where the dolphin initially identifies the human as a prey animal.

In these cases, the killer whale will quickly stop when realising its mistake.

“Any person who hunt these species of animals will be heavily fined and their fishing license will be revoked,” said Al Shamsi.

She explained that the ministry had spotted a number of dolphins and whales in UAE waters, including the bottlenose dolphin and the humpback whale, as they are currently migrating.

The species is a protected one, and is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES ) of Wild Fauna and Flora and Appendices I and II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals.

Two other orcas were also sighted earlier this month, near the Musandam Peninsula of Oman. 

To watch the video visit the source at Gulf news.com

Victory for Whales! St. Vincent Introduces Legislation to Ban Orca Hunting

Great news! The prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gozalves, has announced that the island nation will instate a law banning orca hunting. This announcement arrived five days after two orcas were harpooned and prepared for consumption in front of a group of tourists on a whale-watching tour. The disturbing images of this tragedy can be viewed here, but we warn you, these are incredibly graphic photos.

Broadcasted over the radio, Gonzalves stated, “What will happen is that legislation will be brought to stop that killing. It will be made an offense in the same way we have done with turtles.” (Since January 1, 2017, the government has banned the killing of turtles, the harvesting of turtle eggs, and the disturbance of turtle nests.)

Gonzalves said that this new legislation is in alignment with an international ban against orca hunting that St. Vincent already agreed to several years ago. He further went on to say that the tradition of whale hunting should not go against the progressing global views shunning the practice.

According to Gonzalves, “It is important for us to say that we have our traditions and we need to keep traditions, but we can’t keep traditions out of sync with the rest of the world or have those traditions continue in a manner which is injurious to us…if you think you are an island onto yourself, you will end up with what is called autarchy, which means a splendid self-reliance. But we can’t have a splendid self-reliance because we wouldn’t have motorcars, we wouldn’t have cell phones, because we don’t produce them.” This logical standpoint against whale hunting will hopefully convince those in favor of the practice that killing whales has a domino effect that will, in turn, hit them as well.

Source: One Green Planet

What Antarctic Killer Whales Can Teach Humans About Climate Change

April 10, 2017

The giant mammals are extremely vulnerable to changes in the ecosystem, making their health a good barometer for the state of the environment.

They stood on the top bridge of the cruise ship National Geographic Explorer, peering through binoculars at the vast icy Weddell Sea. It was a summer afternoon in February in Antarctica, the air a balmy 32-or-so degrees Fahrenheit, and John Durban and Holly Fearnbach, biologists with the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, had spotted killer whales in the distance.

The only question was, were these the Type B2’s, with their gorgeous gray-and-white coloring and their culinary fondness for Gentoo penguins—one of only three kinds of killer whales found in the Antarctic Peninsula? Or another type of killer whale unique to these cold deep waters? From miles away it was hard to tell. The rest of us spectators on the ship, far from our native habitats of Texas, England, and Kenya, gazed out at the ice floes and the foggy horizon splashed with blue, wondering too.

The scientists were on board thanks to a grant from the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund. The fund aspires to protect the ocean’s last pristine areas through research, conservation, education, and community-development projects in the company’s far-flung destinations.

For Durban and Fearnbach, who are based in sunny La Jolla, California, the fund has buoyed their research in Antarctica. While they also study orca and humpback whale populations in the Pacific Northwest, the North Atlantic and Alaska, on these trips they’ve been able to observe killer whales in perhaps the most inaccessible place on the planet. Since 2011, the scientists have made several voyages a year to the frozen continent on the Explorer, using the ice-cutting, refurbished Norwegian ferry to follow the whales.

On the trip in early February, the scientists were joined by 148 passengers and a flock of naturalists. For those paying hefty sums to see Antarctica, the 10-day voyage was like a floating science classroom. In the lounge, naturalists lectured on such pertinent topics as “Know Your Penguins,” “What Does Ice Tell Us About Climate Change?” and a Belgian expedition’s epic discovery of the Gerlache Strait.

Durban and Fearnbach gave several talks about their work in Antarctica, and how the health of killer whales is a barometer of the continent’s rapidly changing environment. Their research has been especially revelatory. Until as little as 20 years ago, scientists used to believe that Antarctic killer whales were all alike. But Durban, his colleague Bob Pitman and others took small skin samples of whales, analyzed their DNA, and ended up discovering that there are five distinct types, each with its own prey preferences, hunting techniques, and habitats. Durban and his colleagues are proposing that they may be separate species. This means that each type of killer whale will adapt to climate change in different ways—some likely better than others—largely depending on their food supply.

The enormous Type A’s, which are a striking black and white, feed on minke whales and perhaps elephant seals. The B2’s, which are the smallest and most plentiful, typically frequent the Gerlache Strait, munching on gentoo and chinstrap penguins and probably fish. The B1s, which are a dazzling gray and white, dine on seals. When they hunt, the clever whales band together and literally make waves to wash seals off ice floes. “They are my favorite animals,” said Durban during their talk.

It’s not exactly easy to spot killer whales in the Antarctic seas, where the horizon can be an endless expanse of whites and grays and mesmerizing teal-blue ice sculptures. The creatures are mostly underwater, and race through the seas at a brisk 55 miles per hour. When Durban and Fearnbach do spy them, or get a tip from the sharp-eyed crew on the bridge that whales are in sight, the scientists chase after them in a Zodiac—a small, black rubber motorboat—taking photographs and collecting data. The photos help them identify individual whales and keep close track of their health from year to year. They can also pinpoint where in the vast Antarctic waters the whales are most likely to be, and how stable the various populations are. Although they already know a lot, they want to learn more about what the insatiable animals eat. That will tell them if the warming environment is threatening their food sources.

There’s abundant enthusiasm for their research on the ship. Passengers and naturalists have contributed thousands of photographs of killer whales to the scientists. Counting their own photographs snapped from the Zodiac and from the Explorer’s decks and bow, they’ve amassed nearly 80,000 images of the little-observed animals.

In the past six years, they’ve gained tremendous insights into the enigmatic cetaceans. Using tiny satellite tags affixed to whales that relay their movements, Durban and Fearnbach were the first to document Antarctic whales making a speedy, 5,000-mile trip to the warmer waters of the subtropics and back, apparently to shed their algae-encrusted skin. They recorded the deepest dives—more than 2,000 feet—of any killer whales in the world. They’ve seen feeding behaviors few scientists have: a killer whale dangling an elephant seal in its mouth, another type of killer whale pursuing pretty Adélie penguins.

In early February, the researchers had already been out for two weeks traversing the Southern Ocean and Weddell Sea, where Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance famously got trapped in ice in 1915, trying to fathom more about the role of killer whales in the continent’s rapidly warming environment.  With news of the ever-widening crack in the nearby Larsen C ice shelf, their quest seemed especially relevant.

To read the FULL article, visit The Atlantic.com

Killer Whales spotted off the coast of Musandam in Oman

April 9, 2017

Killer Whales, also known as Orcas, were spotted off the coast of Musandam over the weekend.

AbdulWahid Al Kimzari, Head of the Nature Conservation Department at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs in the region, stated that the whale sightings are extremely rare.

“Within the last ten years, there has been very little if no documentation of these whales in Oman’s waters. There was only one sighting last year, and again this year. But, we have not been able to conduct studies on the whales and their reasons for entering Omani waters because they are so rare,” Al Kimzari said.

According to Al Kimzari, tourists from Wilyat Daba spotted the Killer Whales first while on a boat ride in the water. 

Source: Times of Oman.com

Watch: Two orcas were spotted off the UAE coast this weekend

Whale hello there…

It would be a breathtaking sight anywhere in the world, but it’s all the more special in the UAE – a pair of orca whales was spotted near the Musandam Peninsula, just off the coast of the UAE, this Friday.

A video of the rare sighting shows the orcas emerging from the water, before joining a group of divers for a swim.

Kirsty Hill, who shared the video with What’s On, was on a diving trip with the Dibba-based Nomad Ocean Adentures on Friday. She said they were near Limah on the Musandam Peninsula, a governorate of Oman, when the whales appeared.

“They stayed with us for about an hour,” Hill said.

“This is most definitely not a common occurrence – our dive guide has been diving there for 15 years and never seen one before.”

Here’s a map that shows the area where the whales were spotted (Limah is on the east coast):

Orca sightings are rare in the Gulf, according to the UAE Dolphin Project.

However, whales are spotted in the area from time to time. In 2015, a pair of orcas was seen playing in the waters off Ras Ghurab Island, near Abu Dhabi, and in January 2014, four orcas were reported five miles off Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.

Source: What Son.ae

Pod of savage orcas tear live hammerhead shark to pieces in harrowing deep sea footage

March 31, 2017

The clip, shot by marine wildlife videographer Roberto Ochoa, shows the fearsome beasts toying with the stricken shark, already badly disfigured.

Communicating using a series of squeaks and clicks that reverberate around the ocean, the trio of killers take turns to munch a piece out of the shark.

Eventually, two of the whales swim away, leaving the sorry carcass of flesh to the last orca to devour in peace.

The video was filmed off the coast of the Galapagos Islands – a group of small islands off the west coast of Ecuador, South America.

To read the FULL article and watch VIDEO visit Daily Star.co.uk

$1 Million Donation from Baby Company Will Help Free SeaWorld’s Orcas For Good

March 30, 2017

Munchkin is dedicated to helping babies have the best start in life — and now the brand is working to give SeaWorld’s orcas a fresh start, too.

The company’s CEO Steve Dunn has pledged $1 million toward the building of a seaside sanctuary for the killer whales currently kept in SeaWorld’s parks. Since whales living in captivity aren’t capable of surviving in the wild, these sanctuaries would provide a home that resembles the orcas’ natural habitat, where the animals would be given expansive spaces to swim, the chance to interact with other whales and freedom from being forced to perform.

Dunn was motivated to donate the sum after watching the documentary Blackfish and learning more about the life of captive whales.

“I was really disturbed on a number of fronts when I watched the Blackfishdocumentary,” he says in the clip above. “About a month later I had an MRI, and I was claustrophobic. On  the way back into the office, it really dawned on me — that that’s how orcas must feel in captivity, in these concrete tanks.”

Dunn pledged his $1 million to the The Whale Sanctuary Project, which is working to build the first whale seaside sanctuary in North America. (He even removed the orca out Munchkin’s bath set as a further sign of solidarity.) And thanks to Dunn’s contribution, the first stage of site selection is complete: After surveying spots in Maine, British Columbia, Washington state and Nova Scotia for the perfect geographical and environmental fit, five potential sites for the sanctuary have already been identified. The Whale Sanctuary Project expects to announce the primary site in the fall. 

Thirty-nine orcas have died at SeaWorld, the most recent being controversial Blackfish subject Tilikum, who died in January. Dunn hopes through the work of Munchkin, The Whale Sanctuary Project, PETA and animal lovers, Tilikum will be the last orca to die in a tank.

Seaside sanctuary supporters can help this initiative by learning more about and donating to The Whale Sanctuary Project. Additionally, Munchkin.com is donating all of its profits from March 30, 2017, sales to The Whale Sanctuary Project to make sure SeaWorld’s whales finish their lives in the ocean.

Source: People.com

Wolves of the Sea: Killer Whales and the First Observed Predation on Beaked Whales in the Southern Hemisphere

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March 30, 2017

Killer whales. The name alone is enough to strike fear in even the steeliest of hearts. Also known as orcas, these apex predators are sometimes referred to as “wolves of the sea” and are found across the globe. Like wolves, Orcinus orca in the Northern Hemisphere are known to hunt in packs, teaming up to subdue larger prey and Orcas and their prey in the Northern Hemisphere have been well studied. However, until recently, little research has been done on the predatory tactics or prey of killer whales living off the Western coast of Australia.

In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, a team of researchers took a total of 141 field trips over the course of three years to the Bremer Sub-Basin off the southern coast of Western Australia to observe killer whales and their prey.

On February 25th 2014, the group struck lucky as a group of at least 20 killer whales was sighted off Bremer Bay, followed shortly after by a mesoplodont beaked whale (Mesoplodon spp.). Killer whales have been known to feed on beaked whales, but a direct attack had never been observed. What happened next reads like an opening to a horror movie, as approximately five killer whales (pictured above) flanked the beaked whale for over 67 minutes before the first attack occurred. The subsequent action was ferocious: the killer whales began ramming, striking, and biting the beaked whale. Occasionally, the killer whales would swim on top of the beaked whale and submerge it below the water, where more attacks apparently took place. Four minutes later, it was all over. The beaked whale was last sighted being pushed below the surface by three killer whales. The killer whales took short dives to the area where the beaked whale was last seen and blood was observed in the water.

Over the course of the three years out in the field the authors observed three more attacks on beaked whales. Each attack resembled the first observation in many ways, as seen in the pictures above. However, perhaps the most interesting common observation was the makeup of the killer whale group. Researchers observed adult females, sub-adult males and females, and juveniles in the immediate group, while the adult males kept their distance. This favoring of females and children is consistent with how killer whale prey elsewhere in the Northern hemisphere, however this study marks the first time this female-juvenile arrangement has been observed in the Southern hemisphere and possibly the first observed attack on a beaked whale.

Source: blogs.plos.org

China loves orca whale shows. But it may be making the same mistakes US parks did.

March 26, 2017

Marine parks are booming in China, including shows involving killer whales that have become increasingly unpopular in the U.S.

But animal rights activists say China hasn’t learned from the mistakes of SeaWorld and other U.S. marine parks, leaving the whales sick and overcrowded, USA Today reports.

China has 44 ocean theme parks, with 18 more sent to open soon. That’s a 20 percent increase in just two years. The number of animals in captivity doubled to nearly 500 between 2010 and 2015.

Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist with the Animal Welfare Institute, recently visited the parks. She said the conditions are putting the trainers in danger, not just the whales.

One show, entitled Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, shows trainers nuzzling with whales. Observers have noticed possible signs of skin infections where the trainers touch them. 

One breeding tank featured six whales packed inside, even though none of them were old enough to mate. 

In other shows, guests can pay to touch bottlenose dolphins. But since they’re not disinfected first, that can lead to diseases. Other experts noted signs of dolphins fighting due to cramped living quarters.

Killer whale shows were deemed illegal in California last September. The documentary “Blackfish” contributed to the shows’ declining popularity. Tilikum, the whale featured in “Blackfish,” died in January.

Mitchel Kalmanson, whose consulting firm has overseen deliveries of whales to China, says show organizers don’t respect the animals’ rights.

Source: circa.com