Posted on March 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Lack of enforcement seen as stumbling block to recovery
A vaquita in the Gulf of California. Photo courtesy NOAA/Paula Olsen.
FRISCO — Mexico has launched a last-ditch effort to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise by banning the use of gillnets in the northern Gulf of California. Conservation advocates said the ban is a step in the right direction, but expressed concern that Mexico won’t follow through with enforcement.
Vaquitas, the smallest members of the porpoise family, live only in the northern Gulf of California, generally in the vicinity of the Colorado River delta. The species has been on the Endangered Species List since 1985. Scientists say less than 100 individuals remain. Vaquitas could be extinct by 2018 without drastic conservation and recovery actions.
According to conservation biologists, the biggest threat by far to vaquitas is drowning in fishing nets. Environmental pollution, habitat degradation and inbreeding are also factors in their decline. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, ocean conservation | Tagged: dolphins, endangered species, gillnet ban, Gulf of California, marine mammals, Mexico, vaquitas | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 6, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Decision based on animal welfare concerns
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Germany’s largest travel agency and tour operator has announced that it won’t be offering any more trips to destinations that keep whales and dolphins in captivity.
TUI Deutschland officials made the decision after aligning themselves with an advocacy group that has highlighted just a few of the problems faced by captive cetaceans, including tiny enclosures and disruption of social structures.
TUI also cited information from the CNN documentary Blackfish, which is set to air once again on Feb. 9. The company also said it won’t offer trips to destinations that advertise swimming with dolphins, according to the German publication Die Welt.
While facilities like SeaWorld and other marine parks see themselves as good stewards of marine mammals, public pressure is growing to end the practice of showing whales and dolphins for entertainment.
German wildlife advocates said recent worldwide attention on the gruesome dolphin slaughter in Taji also helped push the huge tour operator toward the decision.
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Animal welfare, dolphins, Environment, Travel, whales | 2 Comments »
Posted on December 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
‘”I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals …”
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Dolphins exposed to heavy doses of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster are experiencing lung disease at five times the rate of dolphin populations in other areas, federal researchers reported in a new study published this week. The scientists also found that 25 percent of the Barataria Bay dolphins were significantly underweight and the population overall had very low levels of adrenal hormones, which are critical for responding to stress.
“I’ve never seen such a high prevalence of very sick animals — and with unusual conditions such as the adrenal hormone abnormalities,” said lead author Dr. Lori Schacke, who announced similar findings in March 2012. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: Barataria Bay, Deepwater Horizon, dolphins, Environment | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Dolphins off the coast of Florida have been exposed to more mercury than captive dolphins fed a controlled diet. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Results suggest that Florida coastal waters have high levels of the toxic metal
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A new study by researchers from The Johns Hopkins University and The National Aquarium shows that wild dolphins have higher levels of mercury than their captive cousins, suggesting that mercury pollution in the oceans is a continuing problem.
The captive animals were fed a controlled diet, while the wild mammals dined on marine life that may carry more of the toxic metal.
The study found lower levels of mercury in the captive animals, particularly compared to wild dolphins tested off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida, a state that is in the path of mercury-laden fumes from power plants. The aquarium dolphins are fed smaller fish from North Atlantic waters, where mercury pollution is less prevalent. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water | Tagged: dolphins, Environment, Mercury, oceans, pollution | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 28, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Critical hormones affected in almost half the marine mammals studied
A bottlenose dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY —The scope of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was so unprecedented that biologists weren’t sure what they would find when they started investigating dolphin health in Barataria Bay, off the coast of Louisiana.
What they did find was disturbing. Many dolphins are underweight and anemic, have low blood sugar and suffers symptoms of liver and lung disease, NOAA researchers said last week. Nearly half of the 32 dolphins studied also have abnormally low levels of hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.
“This was truly an unprecedented event – there was little existing data that would indicate what effects might be seen specifically in dolphins (or other cetaceans) exposed to oil for a prolonged period of time,” Dr. Lori Schwacke said via email. “However, there have been experimental studies of health effects in another mammal (mink) exposed to oil over several months, and the health issues that we see in these dolphins are consistent with the adverse effects seen in the mink studies,” she said. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BP Gulf oil spill, Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Barataria Bay, Deepwater horizon oil spill, dolphins, Gulf of Mexico, marine mammals, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Leave a comment »