Pilot Whales Invade Norwegian Fjords

By Marius Kaizer Haugen


Most whale species have increased in numbers during the past decade. During mid-late 2014 and into 2015 there have been numerous reports of hundreds of pilots whales in Norwegian Fjords.

The whale populations are increasing amid anthropogenic activity such as fishing, Navy exercises, pipeline installations and oil and gas seismic activity.

Some Norwegian fishermen are concerned about a potential reduction in fish stocks that are the prey of the pilot whales.

Video Footage

The Vaquita Porpoise

The tiny vaquita porpoise of the Gulf of California, Mexico, is the world’s most endangered cetacean species. The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) has just released a report indicating that the vaquita’s decline toward extinction has accelerated – there may now be fewer than 100 left. Click here to access the CIRVA report. The report calls upon the Government of Mexico to take immediate action to eliminate gillnets from the entire range of the vaquita and to accompany this measure with strong fisheries enforcement action. The Marine Mammal Commission supported the participation of international experts in the meeting and continues to do all it can to assist Mexico in its efforts to ensure the survival of the vaquita.

New York and New Jersey see surge in whale, dolphin, seal and shark numbers

• Humpbacks and great whites abundant off NY and NJ coast. Dolphins and seals are also on the rise.
• Cleaner waters believed responsible for rise in ocean giants

Humpback whales and great white sharks are surging in numbers in the waters around New York City this summer, in a wildlife bonanza that is delighting naturalists, environmentalists and fishermen – if not necessarily bathers.

Off New York and New Jersey, some of the largest creatures in the ocean are being spotted in greater abundance than has been the case for decades. Paul Sieswerda, head of the Gotham Whale volunteer marine wildlife tracking group, believes the increasing abundance of whales around the Big Apple is largely prompted by cleaner waters that have encouraged huge rises in the populations of fish which the whales eat.

Sperm Whale stocks on the rise in the North Sea

The increase in Sperm Whale stocks are resulting in more and more Sperm Whales observations close to the coast of Norway and within Norwegian fjords. People are interacting with these magnificient creatures more and more.

The video in the link shows 15 year old Jan Arthur Harkestad swimming alongside a large Sperm Whale male in Øygarden near Bergen.

Norway’s top marine mammal researcher, Dr. Arne Bjørge at the Marine Mammal Institute in Bergen, points out that Sperm Whales normally stay in deeper water where they hunt for squid. He warns against playful interactions with these whales as they has easily harm or kill humans with a flick of their tail.

Blue Whale numbers now at 97% of pre-whaling level

Good news! According to a study published in the journal Marine Mammal Science, the endangered California blue whale population has probably returned to near pre-whaling levels. Bad news: They’re the first set of blue whales to do so, and we still keep hitting them with ships.
We know that the blue whale population in the North Pacific (most often spotted in California, as the whales migrate there during the summer) has now reached about 2,200, the largest known on earth. Researchers show that the current population is actually at 97 percent of the historical one.
If California has always had a relatively small blue whale population, it explains why the area’s population growth has slowed in recent years: It may be almost back to normal. The researchers believe that our nasty habit of running into whales with our ships (at least 11 were struck along the west coast last year) isn’t actually a major concern. They believe that the population can maintain its stability regardless.

Expert Comments on Dolphin Strandings

Dr. Jack Lawson, a marine mammal research scientist with the marine section of Fisheries and Oceans Canada points to causes of dolphin strandings:

1. Dolphins are very social. If a sick animal strands itself, then other dolphins in the pod follow along.
2. If they hear the call of their buddies near the beach, then they swim to the beach.
3. Dolphins can strand due to falling tides while chasing capelin or other food sources.
4. There are no anthropogenic causes to the strandings.

The Western Star Newspaper July 26 and August 11, 2014

Marine Mammal Science is now online only

Two years ago, the majority of SMM members voted during the annual April ballot in favor of switching to an electronic-only journal and eliminating the printed version. There was an announcement of this on the Society’s website for several months, but it is possible you missed it if you do not periodically check the site and/or did not attend the annual member’s meeting at the biennial conference. It took some time to plan for the transition, and now it has become a reality.

Symposium on Marine Mammals and Fisheries Interactions

We are responsible of a special symposium on Marine mammals & fisheries interactions during the American Fisheries Society 144th annual meeting, August 17-21 2014 in Qu?bec City. A brief description of the symposia is provided below. Please send your abstract before March 7th, 2014 to lyne.morissette@globetrotter.net. Limited numbers of presentations are accepted, but we hope to have a wide variety of submissions so we can make this symposium and the discussions fruitful.

For more information visit www.afs2014.org/symposia

Hope to see you there!


Call for abstracts for the 3rd International Marine Conservation Congress

The3rd International Marine Conservation Congress will be held from 14-18, August 2014 at the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. We are now accepting abstracts for oral (spoken), speed (short spoken), and poster presentations.

All abstracts must be submitted online by 5pm (GMT) on 8 March 2014. Decisions will be made by 22 March 2014. Complete instructions for submitting proposals are available at the meeting website: www.conbio.org/mini-sites/imcc-2014. The selection process is highly competitive.

Manatees deaths in Florida

Toxic, oxygen-depleting algae blooms are killing manatees at a record-breaking pace this year in Florida, biologists say.
769 endangered sea cows have died so far this year across Florida State, the Save the Manatee Club reported. That constitutes Florida’s largest annual manatee die-off since record-keeping began, with two more months left to go.

The previous record of 766 documented dead manatees was set in 2010. That’s when hundreds succumbed to cold stress during an unusually chilly winter and spring, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists determined.