Field Report from Chile

Chile’s Chiloé Island and its surrounding waters serve as a crucial feeding ground for blue whales of the southern hemisphere, a migratory route for several bird species, and are a key area for the critically endangered southeast population of southern right whales.

However, the long-term conservation of the area is under threat due to the planned construction of a mega wind farm project on the coast line of Mar Brava, one of the richest zones of coastal biodiversity in Chile. Although renewable energy resources are a great alternative to reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, they can also have a negative environmental impact if not suitably located.

In November 2013, Centro de Conservatcion Cetacea participated with the International League of Conservation Photographers in documenting the area and biodiversity that would be negatively affected by this project. The work is being used to support a strong public campaign for the relocation of the mega wind farm project, and grant long term protection to the area from industrial development.

Wild About Whales!

group photo with whale fluke We ended June and entered July with our “Wild About Whales” week at Ocean Camp.  Although the fastest recorded migration for Hawaii’s humpback whales is 39 days, campers covered this approximate 3,000 mile journey in only four days! Participating in a variety of activities, campers explored humpback whale feeding and calving grounds and learned about the respective whale behaviors occurring in these locations such as bubble net feeding and nursing.

By understanding whale anatomy and research techniques, campers also learned how to identify individual whales from their fluke which is unique to each individual whale similar to how every human has a different fingerprint! We even experienced a behind-the-scenes tour of our research lab where we received tips from the experts while being surrounded by a collection of humpback whale data recorded over the last 30 years.

Continue reading

Hawai’i Conservation Conference

Today marked the final day of the 22nd annual Hawai’i Conservation Conference, where the “who’s who” of the protection and management of Hawaiian ecosystems descend upon the island of O’ahu to discuss issues such as coral reef health, marine mammal protection, climate change adaptation and building local capacity.

lauren_conference2

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to exhibit Pacific Whale Foundation’s fishing line recycling program during the conference, and connected with numerous individuals and organizations to help expand this important program throughout Hawai’i.

Fishing line wrapped around a coral head (Maui)

Fishing line wrapped around a coral head (Maui)

Popularized in Florida, fishing line recycling programs are now found throughout coastal states, and represent a voluntary, community-based environmental initiative. Anglers and fishermen are encouraged to not only recycle their line, but to sponsor bins that they (along with their community) will maintain in the future.

Continue reading

FACT OF THE WEEK: Can’t Touch This

FACT OF THE WEEK: Zoonotic disease Brucellosis found shared between marine mammals and humans.

MORE ON THIS: Zoonotic diseases are those which can be passed between humans and animals. Brucella spp. is the genus of bacteria which causes the zoonotic disease Brucellosis, and can be found in numerous domesticated livestock and wild animals. The Brucella strain in domesticated animals has been eradicated in most industrialized countries, but unfortunately, in developing countries, it is still an issue. The disease has also been found in marine mammals, particularly recorded in dolphins, seals and sea lions. Symptoms in each terrestrial or marine mammal vary, and acquiring the disease can be done by ingesting the bacterium or by touching an open wound.

Spotted dolphin with a lesion

Dolphin with an open wound

Continue reading

Bottlenose dolphin in Maalaea Harbor

Unexpected sighting: a dolphin in Maalaea Harbor

The research team did not have to go far on July 3rd to spot a dolphin. There was one swimming around Maalaea Harbor! It looked like a sub-adult, meaning it was not fully grown. We photographed it following our protocol, and this week searched for a match within our bottlenose dolphin catalog, but this individual had not been photographed previously by our researchers. When we were examining the photos, we noticed a lot of tooth rake scars on the posterior (back) half of its body – perhaps it was seeking shelter from another dolphin or predator, it was curious, or maybe it had simply gotten lost. The team watched for a while and eventually the dolphin followed another boat out of the harbor.  Teenagers are always getting into trouble!

Rake Marks Photoshopped

This July 4th, Pledge to Clean Beaches!

Honestly, who doesn’t love 4th of July? It’s the biggest neighborhood block party of the year, complete with family, friends and plates stacked high with Bar-B-Que.
But did you know that July 4th also represents one of the biggest inputs of trash into environment?! Beaches become strewn with red SOLO cups and fried chicken boxes, and bits and pieces of fireworks litter the sand.

Pacific Whale Foundation Ocean Campers count the trash they collected during a recent beach cleanup

Many people don’t realize the impact that trash can have our marine and coastal environments. Not only is trash on a beach unsightly, it also poses serious health risks to humans and wildlife.

Sea birds, whales, dolphins, turtles and fish, for example, regularly come into contact with trash. Oftentimes these animals mistake this trash (especially plastic) for food. Ingesting plastic can perforate an animal’s stomach or block their esophagus, which leads, ultimately, to starvation.

By cleaning our beaches, we can reduce the amount of trash that gets into the ocean, and therefore create a healthier environment for humans and marine life!

The GOOD NEWS is that so many of us care about the ocean. We care about the fish that swim under the waves and the birds that soar overhead. By working together, and each taking steps to change our lifestyles just a little bit at a time, we can clean up our beaches and ocean!

 

Your task for this Fourth of July, then, is to celebrate our day of Independence, while also taking the pledge to clean beaches.

Here are FOUR simple ways that you can make a difference on the 4th!

1. Find alternatives to single-use plastics: More and more people now utilize reusable cloth bags in place of plastic bags, but what about things like plastic forks or straws? Purchase a reusable knife/fork set that you can keep in your purse or car for those times when you have to hit the drive-thru or are dining out. Bringing a small Tupperware for leftovers will also help you avoid using Styrofoam containers.

2. Share this Blog Post: Education is key to cleaning up our environment. Sharing your knowledge about the impact of single-use plastics and trash with your friends and family members requires the simple click of a button, but could make a world of difference for our ocean.

3. Host a Beach Cleanup: Headed to the beach for the Fourth of July? While the burgers are cooking and the football is being thrown, gather some of your friends and family members to walk the beach and pick up trash. Even 5 or 10 minutes spent cleaning is important to animals like turtles or dolphins that may later mistake that trash for food. Don’t forget to wear gloves and bring extra trash bags!

4. Write your Local Representatives: The island of Maui ceased the use of plastic bags on January 1, 2011. Most recently, Maui County passed a law outlawing smoking and tobacco use on County beaches. These laws were passed because the residents of Maui spoke up and we asked our local government to help make a positive difference for our environment. Speak up and let’s make a difference.

Inspired to take even more action? Download Pacific Whale Foundation’s 10 Ways to Protect Our Oceans fact sheet – it will get you pointed in the right direction!

Continue reading