The release today of the documentary Blackfish has SeaWorld, the setting of the documentary, in an unusually aggressive yet defensive public relations battle with the makers of the film. The film centers on the orca that perform in captivity at SeaWorld, and explores the 2010 death of Dawn Brancheau by the actions of the orca Tilikum. In January, the documentary series Frontline explored the world of captive cetaceans, particualrly at SeaWorld in their film, A Whale of a Business. [more inside]
A Friday flash featuring fins.
While visiting Mexico on their 20th anniversary, one lucky couple captured a rare moment of wonder: Several killer whales frolicking in the wake of their boat. [via]
Humpback whales intervene in orca attack on gray whale calf near Monterey, Calif. (article with photos)
The first sighting of an all-white male orca (YouTube 1, 2) is reported by Eric Hoyt, Senior Fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, UK.
Fisherman versus killer whale [SLYT, some NSFW language]
The Seattle P-I is known for its in depth, epic, investigative reports. As the print edition closes down this week here is a look at one report that made the PI great: The Health of the Puget Sound. [more inside]
Operation Orca - Springer, Luna and the Struggle to Save West Coast Killer Whales (1) They Shoot Orcas, Don't They? (2) Era of the Orca Cowboys (3) How Not to Ship a Whale [more inside]
"Old Tom is the most famous of the Eden killer whales". The story of a pod of killer whales who enlisted the help of fishermen in NSW, Australia to hunt baleen whales. The pod would corral the whales, while Old Tom would tow the fishing boats out to sea by pulling the anchor ropes in his teeth. The reward? The fishermen left the whale overnight and the orcas got to eat the tongue. Alas, it seems Old Tom may have met his end when the covenant was broken and a fisherman named Logan tried to take the whale to shore before the feast. Tom tried to hold the boat back with the rope, but it broke a tooth which infected and led to his death. Tom's skeleton is now on display at the Eden Killer Whale Museum. His story inspired a young girl to become a biologist and investigate the story for herself.
Orca Live: The idea of Nature Network is to relay live imagery and sound from cameras set up in Nature throughout the world. "My hope is to bring people closer to Nature without disrupting her" that hope is the hope of Dr. Spong. At this very moment, all over the world, a variety of organisms are beaming with life. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were media by which people could get a sense of this? If a window could be opened up that would trigger city dwellers' memories of the rhythms of Nature, the way we sense the world and our way of being are bound to change somewhat. That hope, too, lies within. via
Fourteen killer whales were spotted about 90 miles off the coast of Texas on January 18 (Video/stills included). This is one for the record books: There are "only 9 reliable records of collected sightings before 1990. Another 14 have been collected since then," said University of Texas Marine expert Tony Amos. Larger stills from the video are available here.
OrcaLive is a series of webcams and underwater microphones placed off of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They are part of OrcaLab started by Dr. Spong in 1970 to study wild orca. It appears the cameras are manned and observations of behavior and movement are made here in the left-hand column. Combined, it makes for some good viewing--today alone I saw and heard different pods greeting each other, saw spyhops, stomach rubbing along the shore, and tailslaps. Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research has been studying the orca around the San Juan Islands, Washington since 1976. They also have a webcam and still shots. You may remember the story of Springer being reunited with her pod. (discussed here) There is also a young male named Luna L98 who has been separated from his pod for two years. His situation has reached a crisis while Canadian officials have taken a wait-and-see approach. In the last few days, Luna was wounded by a boat propeller and has a 6-8inch long 1.5inch deep gash above one eye. Maybe Canada will act now. With only 79 individuals in the Southern Resident population, down from 92 in 1991, every individual is important.
Orphan Orca captured in Puget Sound this afternoon near Vashon Island. The young female orca, A73, nicknamed Springer, will likely be returned to her pod in Canada after medical tests are completed. live stream.
Very high level of PCBs in whale raises alarms. "The orca found dead on the Olympic Peninsula earlier this year carried a level of contaminants that was among the highest -- if not the highest -- ever measured in killer whales, laboratory tests show". If that is the case with free ranging whales then I shudder to think what similar measurements on city dwelling humans will reveal. Does anyone know of similar contaminant research on humans? (via Baloney.com)