Hues of blues and vibrant greens reflect off the calm, clear waters of Lake Bled, a fairytale of a place located in the upper region of northwestern Slovenia. It is this quaint community of Bled, nestled in the foothills of the Julian Alps and famous for its cream cake, that set the stage for nearly 200 scientists from over 40 countries to present their recommendations for whale management policies at the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee meeting in May.
The lake is of glacial-tectonic origin and lies at the northwestern part of Slovenia, its crystal clear water is habitat to over 19 species of fish including Carp, Pike and Lake Trout.
The most famous delicacy at Lake Bled is a dessert – the Bled Cream Cake (“kremšnita”) made using an original recipe from over 60 years ago.
St. Martin’s Parish was built in 1905 n the site of the previous Gothic church dating from the 15th century.
The Bleeding Heart blooms in bright pink and red and is a symbol of true love, while the rarer white species symbolize purity and innocence.
The 2017 annual SC meeting of the IWC was held at Hotel Golf in Bled, Slovenia
The Scientific Committee (SC) is the body that advises the International Whaling Commission (IWC) on whale stock management and conservation measures. Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) Founder, Greg Kaufman is an Invited Participant to the SC and serves on several subcommittees including: Whalewatch, Southern Hemisphere whales, Small Cetaceans, Photo-ID and Non-deliberate Human Induced Mortality on Cetaceans. He also serves as the international whalewatch representative to the IWC’s Conservation Committee. Part of PWF’s presence at the IWC is to help ensure scientifically based management of the world’s whale populations.
Pacific Whale Foundation representatives, Barbara Galletti, Greg Kaufman and Cristina Castro.
Greg Kaufman presents his recomendations on Modelling and Assessment of Whalewatching Impacts.
Scientific Committee workshop assessment for Modelling and Assessment of Whalewatching Impacts.
PWF has been instrumental in providing a comprehensive assessment of the impacts and value of whalewatching. Greg is a team member for the IWC’s Modeling and Assessment of the Whalewatch Industry (MAWI) that will undertake a workshop in the next six months to define a long-term assessment on global whalewatch operations. Since 2010, Greg has also been involved in drafting an international Strategic Plan for Whalewatching. This plan is undergoing further review with an expected international roll-out in the next few years.
This was the setting for debates, recommendations and policy implementations at the IWC
Barbara Galletti, Javier Rodriguez (Representative of Costa Rica and expert in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Marine Biology) and PWF Founder Greg Kaufman.
The Vintgar gorge is an impressive landscape where turquoise waters carve its way through vertical rocks creating waterfalls, pools and rapids. This natural resource is classified among the more important tourist sights in Slovenia.
Charming traditional Slovenian Alpine house
Cristina Castro enjoys a ride on a Pletna
One of the most highly regarded papers was focused on photo-identification of Bryde’s whales in Latin America.
A dozen papers authored, co-authored, or using PWF data were presented to the SC this year. One of the most highly regarded papers was focused on photo-identification of Bryde’s whales in Latin America. This work, long thought to be near impossible to conduct, was co-led by PWF Ecuador researcher, Cristina Castro who collected and compiled the data. Barbara Galletti also presented research funded by PWF on Chilean blue whales, focusing on a small population found off the coast of Chiloe Island.
This year was historic in that the IWC allowed the creation of a working group comprised of members of the Scientific Committee and Conservation Committee, ensuring for the first time that conservation measures will rely upon scientific advice and not purely political concerns.
Carol loved watching blue whales of a cliff in remote Chiloe Island.
Carol and Elsa Cabrera worked closely on blue whale research with Centro de Conservación Cetacea.
Photos provided by Elsa Cabrera
Photos provided by Elsa Cabrera
Carole promoted the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) of the Cartegena Convention of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and helped draft its Marine Mammal Action Plan.
Fluke up dive.
Despite the positive achievements at this year’s SC, members were left somber with the recent loss of Dr. Carole Carlson, a pioneering whale scientist, naturalist, conservationist and PWF Board Member. Dr. Carlson served on the Whalewatch Sub-Committee of the IWC since 1994, and organized and conducted multiple international whalewatching workshops.
One calm afternoon, traditional boats called pletna took members of both committees to an islet in the lake’s center where the Church of the Assumption of Maria is located. The evening commemorated Dr. Carlson’s commitment to the development of whalewatching guidelines throughout the world, and her dedication to education and scientific programs on behalf of whales and their natural habitats.
An iconic scene of Lake Bled.
Lake Bled at Sunset
It was a very emotion evening as those closest to Dr. Carlson remember her life.
Barbara Galletti was a close friend of Carol, they worked closely together on the blue whale project in Chiloé .
The Pletna boat is a wooden flat-bottom boat propelled by two oars and operated by the Pletna oarsman, a very respectable profession.
Statue Of Mary Magdalene
Greg Kaufman remembers Dr. Carlson
Lake Bled is a mythical place.
Many of her close colleagues said a few words, including Greg who made a very moving speech about his dear friend and the vision they shared. “Dr. Carlson was a visionary, a guardian of the sea, and an engaging advocate for public education and whale conservation. Her contributions are a living legacy to the protection of whales and their ocean home.” It was remarkable how Carole affected so many people. As the sun set over the still ice-capped mountains, a sense of hope embraced the gathering knowing that efforts will continue to be made in her memory to conserve and protect the world’s whales and our ocean environment.
Watch the Memorial for Carole Carlson, 14th May 2017, Bled, Slovenia.