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 . . . 

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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

Why did SeaWorld killer whales die? Animal activists sue for release of necropsy reports

November 29, 2018

By: Lori Weisberg

Multiple animal rights advocates sued the federal government this week in a move to force the release of necropsy reports related to the deaths of three SeaWorld killer whales, including one from the San Diego marine park.

The lawsuit, which targets the National Marine Fisheries Service, is the culmination of a so far unsuccessful quest by marine mammal researchers and advocates to gain access to necropsies they say will help them and others understand how to better care for cetaceans both in captivity and the wild.

Animal welfare groups, including the Animal Welfare Institute, the Earth Island Institute and the PETA Foundation, have been trying since last year to persuade SeaWorld and the National Marine Fisheries Service to release necropsy reports on the 2017 deaths of three killer whales — Tilikum, the SeaWorld Orlando whale featured in the 2013 “Blackfish” documentary; Kasatka, regarded as SeaWorld San Diego’s orca matriarch; and Kyara, a 3-month-old killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., argues that regulations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act require that SeaWorld turn over clinical history and necropsy reports to National Marine Fisheries when certain captive whales, porpoises or dolphins die . . . (to read the rest of the article visit the source)

Source: San Diego Tribune


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 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.


Endangered B.C. orcas contend with machine-gun fire and smoke bombs

November 23, 2018

The 74 critically endangered southern resident killer whales frequenting British Columbian waters are slowly starving to death. The last thing they need is to inadvertently swim into the line of fire of a naval machine-gun exercise, say whale researchers.

But that’s exactly what happens from time to time in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to longtime whale researcher Ken Balcomb.

An endangered southern resident killer whale breaches in the Haro Straight. Conservationists say southern resident orcas can’t lose many more whales before there are not enough of them to stop their slide toward extinction.

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Pod of orcas, dolphins spotted off Palos Verdes coast

January 24, 2018

A pod of orcas and another pod of dolphins were spotted off the coast of Palos Verdes Wednesday.

The killer whales were located almost 2 miles west of Point Vincente. The large pod of orcas breeched the water several times and not far from them the pod of dolphins jumped through the waves and swam off.

At one point, the situation got a little tense when a seal began swimming near the orca pod. At times the orcas circled the seal.


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.


Salmon enhancement project in Sooke will feed hungry orcas

May 18, 2017

A unique salmon enhancement project on Vancouver Island aims to increase large adult Chinook salmon in the Juan De Fuca Strait to feed hungry south resident killer whales.

More than 200,000 healthy Chinook salmon smolts are currently being held in a temporary holding enclosure in the Sooke basin.

The “Feeding our Endangered Orcas” initiative is in its first year, but organizers say they hope to expand the number of salmon to one million within three years.

“If this works as a cookie cutter, we’re hoping that we’re able to multiply it throughout the province and change the precipitous decline curve that has befallen the Chinook salmon,” said Dan Kukat, owner of Spring Tide Victoria Whale Watching and former president of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.

Before the salmon are released they are bulked up to about double their weight.

“Unfortunately nature can’t offer the best of all natural conditions all the time and that’s where this project steps in to do that,” said Kukat. “[The salmon] will have had very high fertilization rate and they’ll have a very low mortality rate and a very low predation rate.”

Killer whales are picky eaters and prefer Chinook salmon to other fish.

“It’s got to do with the composition of the Chinook of the nutrients that are in it and some of the acids that are in it that the killer whales can’t resist,” Kukat added.

The fish are also tagged, which will allow scientists to gather important data like the salmon’s survival rate.

In 2016, researchers at the Center of Whale Research in Seattle said orcas, particularly mothers and their babies, are struggling because they don’t have enough food, which is a primary factor in the population’s decline.

Scientists said the best way to save the whales was to restore runs of salmon eaten by the killer whales. 

“We start bulking up these numbers, they’ll see a huge increase back into the river system and it’ll be … a win-win situation down the road for everybody,” Glen Varney, an organizer of the project.

Experts say it’s not only vital to helping the endangered orcas, but the initiative will also improve ecotourism as well as traditional and public fisheries.

“Feeding our Endangered Orcas” has been approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and is locally funded and operated. 

The number of orca whales in B.C. waters has declined in recent years. In 2016, seven southern resident killer whales died bringing the endangered population to 78.

Source: Vancouver

French marine park challenges ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins

May 11, 2017

 French marine park plans to fight a newly introduced ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins in captivity, saying that putting it into practice could be cruel.

The ban was announced last week as part of government attempts to improve the living conditions of captive marine mammals in marine parks.

It mirrors a move in California to outlaw breeding of killer whales and which was aimed at bringing an end to the practice of holding the creatures in tanks for human entertainment.

Jon Kershaw, Wildlife Director at Antibes’ Marineland in southern France, told Reuters TV that the new law communicated by the environment ministry on Saturday could hurt the animals.

“To impose this law, and I am talking about imposing, on the animals, we will have to put them under stress. We will separate them. We will give them chemical treatments for fear of them reproducing. I am sure that this will have an effect on the animals’ life expectancy, so it’s not normal, it’s not logical to establish on the one hand a decree made for protecting animals, and on the other hand harming them like that. I don’t understand,” he said.

He said he intended to fight against implementation of the law, first by establishing what legal action can be taken and by launching petitions.

French activist Caroline Camus of ‘Sans Voix PACA,’ an organization in the Provence, Alpes Cote d’Azur (PACA) region whose name translates as ‘Those without a voice’, disagrees with Kershaw.

She said the new law was a good way to bring this type of captivity to an end and explore releasing some remaining captive dolphins into the Mediterranean Sea.

“There are huge possibilities,” she said.

According to activists at, there are around 3,000 whales and dolphins held in aquariums, zoos and marine parks globally.


Warmer temperatures, more killer whales bad news for belugas: study

May 3, 2017

A study suggests a warming climate and more killer whales could spell bad news for beluga whales in the southwestern portion of Hudson Bay.

The study included researchers at Oceans North Canada, the federal government and the University of Manitoba.

It looked at an attack by killer whales on belugas near the mouth of the Seal River in northern Manitoba in August 2012.

Research showed that after the attack, the belugas scattered northward along the Hudson Bay coastline, away from a traditional calving area near the Seal River.

The study suggests such scattering could impact the survival rate of young belugas.

It also notes that as the climate warms and the water in western Hudson Bay sees longer ice-free periods, the presence of killer whales may grow.

“Here, short-term changes in distribution were recorded in relation to a predation event,” reads the study published in the Canadian Field-Naturalist.

“This change, if occurring multiple times during the longer ice-free season, could have significant biological consequences related to energy expenditure and success in calf-rearing.”

Kristin Westdal, one of the study’s authors, said such attacks don’t have much of an impact yet on the estimated 60,000 beluga population in western Hudson Bay.

But that could change if the ice-free season continues to expand and the killer-whale population grows, she said.

Source: The