Humpback whales resurging in Salish Sea – KING

More good news…

After traveling north for the summer, humpback whales have migrated back to the Salish Sea. The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) said they’ve resurfaced in record numbers. “We’ve seen more humpbacks this year than ever, and they’re popping up now everywhere, in the San Juan Islands, Georgia Strait, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Haro Strait, Rosario Strait, Saanich Inlet – repopulating the areas where they were once abundant pre-whaling,” said Captain Mark Malleson, veteran whale watch captain for Prince of Whales Whale Watching. ” Very exciting time out there now.” Kate Clark reports. (KING)

http://www.king5.com/story/news/2015/10/15/humpback-whales-resurging-salish-sea/74020024/

Patrols keep US boaters in line, protect killer whales- AP

It’s been long overdue. Nice to see that the Feds are finally putting money into enforcement of the protection zone, rather than sitting back and hoping for good behavior. I would agree with the assessment that it’s likely recreational boaters (think of charters coming from all over) rather than locals or the whale watching industry. I’ve met a lot of whale watching businesspeople and they are smart enough to know that crowding the whales can lead to them losing their businesses.

Against a backdrop of rocky bluffs, a pod of orcas jumped out of the emerald waters of the Puget Sound before splashing their massive black-and-white bodies back into the water. Shadowing the whales on a recent afternoon were several recreational and commercial whale-watching boats that ferry people out to watch the orcas breach, one of nature’s most impressive spectacles. But the combination of boats and whales has state and federal authorities worried now that the Southern Resident pod of killer whales has four new calves. Manuel Valdes reports. (Associated Press)

http://phys.org/news/2015-09-patrols-boaters-line-killer-whales.html

Questions being raised about Navy’s possible implication in mass whale deaths in Alaska – KTUU TV

5 more dead whales found in Alaska waters since June; total 14 dead.

The highly unusual mass death of whales in Alaskan waters, happened during the time frame that Navy was conducting bombing training that they said, in their documents that they filed with their ESA, that would involve killing of sea mammals.

New concerns were raised for Alaskan whales as the Navy conducted a training exercise in the Gulf of Alaska for two weeks June. Researchers are monitoring for dead whale sightings after the exercise. Sonobuoys were used as part of the exercise – a technology that affects deep diving whale species like beaked whales and sperm whales most, researchers say.

Interestingly, once the Navy started monitoring the situation the whale deaths stopped.

http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/5-more-dead-whales-found-in-alaska-waters-since-june-total-14-dead/34101154

Agency proposes lifting most humpback whales’ protections – Bellingham Herald

Hmmm. I’m waiting to hear more from the whale protection groups before calling this a good story. One person interviewed stated that it might be premature to do this. The fact that Alaska is pushing to get it done worries me. Their politics up there are distinctly anti-environmental in nature.

The federal government on Monday proposed removing most of the world’s humpback whale population from the endangered species list, saying they have rebounded after 45 years of protections. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries wants to reclassify humpbacks into 14 distinct populations, and remove 10 of those from the list…. Humpbacks were listed as endangered in 1970, four years after the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling. Caleb Jones reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/04/20/4250936_noaa-proposes-take-most-humpbacks.html

Sand shrimp may be unavailable due to whales – Everett Herald

The battle for ocean resources finds a new issue to add to the ever growing list.

Herring, sand shrimp, Power Bait, cured roe, nightcrawlers. Eliminate any of those baits and you’ve made a major portion of the western Washington sport fishing public very unhappy. So expect howls of outrage when the word gets around that sand shrimp may be unavailable — or at least hard to find — for anglers anticipating fishing that big run of pinks due this summer in our local rivers. Or steelhead, Dolly Varden, cutthroat, and several other species…. The problem stems from the fact that leases to harvest sand shrimp on public beaches along parts of Saratoga Passage were cancelled last summer by the Washington Department of Natural Resources…. But whales have entered the picture…. Recently, questions have been asked, often by folks in the Langley area, about whether or not commercial shrimp harvest is negatively impacting whale behavior. Wayne Kruse reports. (Everett Herald)

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20150402/SPORTS/150409867/1004/Sand-shrimp-may-be-unavailable-due-to-whales

Court Rules Navy War Games Violate Law Protecting Whales and Dolphins

From the National Resources Defense Council. I for one, am glad I donate to their cause!
U.S. District Court deems that nearly 9.6 million underwater assaults on whales and dolphins were improperly assessed as “negligible”

LOS ANGELES (March 31, 2015) —A federal court today announced that the U.S. Navy’s training and testing activities off the coast of Southern California and Hawaii illegally harm more than 60 whale, dolphin, seal, and sea lion populations. The U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii, found that the National Marine Fisheries Service – the agency charged with protecting marine mammals – violated multiple requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act when agreeing to the Navy’s plan.

“Searching the administrative record’s reams of pages for some explanation as to why the Navy’s activities were authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service (‘NMFS’), this court feels like the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ who, trapped for days on a ship becalmed in the middle of the ocean, laments, ‘Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.’” the Court wrote in its 66-page opinion.

The case before the Court was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Cetacean Society International, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pacific Environment and Resources Center, and Michael Stocker.

In 2014, the case was consolidated for administrative purposes with another action (Conservation Council for Hawaii v. National Marine Fisheries Service) challenging the government’s authorizations of Navy activities in Hawaii and Southern California. Today, the Court also ruled against the government in that action.

Under its five-year plan for training and testing, the Navy is permitted to harm whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals nearly 9.6 million times while conducting high-intensity sonar exercises and underwater detonations. These harmful impacts include millions of instances of temporary hearing loss and significant disruptions in vital behaviors, such as habitat abandonment, as well as permanent hearing loss, permanent injury and more than 150 deaths.

Ocean noise is one of the biggest threats worldwide to the health and well-being of marine mammals, which rely on sound to ‘see’ their world. Navy sonar activities, shipping noise, and seismic exploration by oil and gas companies have made our oceans noisier in recent decades, resulting in widespread disruption to feeding, communication, mating, and more.

Following is a statement by Zak Smith, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, representing plaintiffs:

“Defenseless marine mammals are going deaf and hungry and may die at the hands of our Navy. And the laws we have that are meant to limit such harms have been misused by the government.

“Instead of downplaying the impacts on marine mammals – including endangered blue, fin and humpback whales – the government should be doing more to protect them from these harmful activities.

“The Navy has solutions at its disposal to ensure it limits the harm to these animals during its exercises.  It’s time to stop making excuses and embrace those safety measures.”

NOAA study could set stage for Makah whaling to resume- Seattle Times

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. A bad idea wrapped in an old tradition, that no longer makes sense. You can extrapolate a lot of things  like this that people could do, and shouldn’t. Let your imagination think about it.

There should be new ways to teach people the hunt, and the point of the hunt, without destroying these creatures that we now know are so much more than just meat for someone’s table, that is, if they even eat whale meat anymore at all. I don’t support his action on their part. I understand why some of the tribe thinks they should do it, but I hope that they don’t.

On Friday, NOAA Fisheries released a draft environmental study that could set the stage for the resumption of whaling off the Washington coast by the Makah Indian tribe. The draft proposes six options ranging from prohibiting an annual hunt for North Pacific gray whales to allowing up to 24 to be harvested within a six-year period. Hal Bernton reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/noaa-study-could-set-stage-for-resumption-of-tribal-whaling/

NOAA Releases Marine Mammals Protection Regulations for Navy Training- Navaltoday.com

We’ll see if we can contact USNB Bangor and find out how they may relate to our waters.

Final regulations requiring the United States Navy to implement protective measures during training and testing activities off the coasts of California and Hawaii and on the high seas of the Pacific Ocean to reduce the effects on marine mammals have been released, NOAA Fisheries announced yesterday.

Read the whole story here:

http://navaltoday.com/2013/12/17/noaa-releases-marine-mammals-protection-regulations-during-navy-training/

Pacific Coast Whale Trail Gets First Whale Trail Sign

With the recent influx of whales into the Salish Sea, mainly around Saratoga Passage, this is a good time to cheer on Donna Sandstrom and her ongoing efforts to publicize the “Whale Trail” which is a series of good spots to try and watch whales.

WhaleTrail Kalaloch final copy

NEWS RELEASE

April 2, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE USE

CONTACT: Donna Sandstrom, The Whale Trail, (206) 919-5397
Kathy Steichen, Olympic National Park (360) 912-2770
Jacqueline Laverdure, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (360) 457-6622 x21
PACIFIC COAST GETS FIRST WHALE TRAIL SIGN
AT OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK’S KALALOCH LODGE
Visitors to Kalaloch Lodge on the Olympic Peninsula’s Pacific Ocean shore will learn about gray whales, sea otters and endangered orcas that frequent the area, thanks to a partnership between The Whale Trail, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and Olympic National Park.

The first Whale Trail sign to be installed on the Washington outer coast will be dedicated at Kalaloch Lodge on April 11 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. The ceremony will feature a keynote address by Jefferson County Commissioner Phil Johnson, and representatives from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park and The Whale Trail. The event is free and open to the public.

The program will also feature Hoh tribal storyteller Viola Riebe, Director of Cultural Resources. Viola was featured in the film Run to High Ground!, a Native American story about tsunamis and earthquakes, and co-author of the chapter on the Hoh Tribe in the book, Native Peoples of the Olympic Peninsula: Who We Are.

“Whale Trail signs are simple but powerful reminders that orcas and other marine mammals live in our waters,” said Donna Sandstrom, executive director of The Whale Trail. “The Kalaloch sign encourages visitors to look at this spectacular seascape with a deeper understanding of the diversity of life it supports, and our role in protecting it.”

Twenty-nine species of marine mammals live in or pass through the waters of the sanctuary. At vantage points in the Olympic National Park, visitors might spot migratory gray whales, sea lions, harbor porpoise, harbor seals, sea otters and orcas.

“I was a commercial fisherman for 12 years,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Phil Johnson. “I had the opportunity on many occasions to observe these amazing creatures up close and spotting a pod of whales was always the high point of a trip.”

“No one walks away from an encounter with an orca or grey whale without being awestruck and hopefully eager to learn more,” said Carol Bernthal, Superintendant of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. “The health of the ocean is challenged right now by big issues like climate change and ocean acidification and it will take the political will and actions at the local and international level to make the necessary changes in policy to better protect our ocean. It starts with awareness of the need to protect these places and animals.”

“We are happy to have provided the funding and staff support for producing signs at Kalaloch, Snow Creek, and Port Angeles in partnership with The Whale Trail and Olympic National Park,” said Bernthal.

The Whale Trail sign at Kalaloch is the first sign placed within the Olympic National Park.

“We are pleased to host this stop on the Whale Trail and grateful for the strong partnerships that have made this possible,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

The Whale Trail has also identified whale-viewing sites at La Push (Quileute Nation) and Cape Flattery (Makah Nation) and dozens of other sites on the Olympic Peninsula and in Puget Sound, http://thewhaletrail.org/sites. Through its current signs alone, including two on every Washington State ferry, The Whale Trail reaches more than 22 million people each year.

For more information on the Whale Trail, go to http://thewhaletrail.org/

Whales all over the Salish Sea

The Orca Network Whale Siting daily bulletin reports lots of sightings of various whales, mainly in Saratoga Passage, on the east side of Whidbey Island. If you got the time, they got the whales.

We met a lot of nice folks sharing the fun of watching a gray whale parade all over Penn Cove today. Gray whales were seen up and down Saratoga Passage, from Langley to deep inside Penn Cove, on this sparkling sunny day. Bigg’s whales (Transients) were were in Saanich Inlet today, and NOAA Fisheries reports K25 and probably the rest of K pod (and possibly much of L pod) were shuffling around in northern Oregon and southern Washington. And a humpback was off Clover Point in Victoria.

To join the Orca Network, go sign up at the following link.
http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001kGlTg99yfXXkSoHlfwFnWg%3D%3D

Gray Whales Back in Puget Sound

If you like to watch: Gray whales are back in Puget Sound and whale watchers are already getting some solid views. Captain Carl Williams of the Island Adventures whale watching fleet was the first to spot a whale spout on Thursday’s tour near Everett. It was just the beginning. Within minutes passengers were shouting out locations of other whale spouts, backs and tails. It’s on. Gary Chittim reports.

http://www.king5.com/news/environment/Gray-whales-return-to-Puget-Sound-198365081.html

Whale death attributed to derelict fishing net – multiple sources

With the death of a whale in White Rock on Tuesday shining a spotlight on the health of our oceans, our government is being urged to get to work pulling old fishing gear out of the water.

The cleanup is happening in Washington state, but environmentalists say it’s a different story here in Canada. The whale in White Rock was entangled in some kind of line, and the Georgia Strait Alliance believes we can help prevent other sea creatures from meeting the same fate.

Environmentalists want old fishing gear cleaned up

http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/372742–environmentalists-want-old-fishing-gear-cleaned-up

See also: Immature humpback whale washes ashore, dies in White Rock http://www.timescolonist.com/technology/Immature+humpback+whale+washes+ashore+dies+White+Rock+story+photos/6769166/story.html

Too Few Salmon Is Far Worse Than Too Many Boats for Killer Whales – ScienceDaily.com

Last year, regressive regulations were foisted on the whale watch community by rich shore owning people in the San Juans who courted the politicians in Washington D.C. with bogus ‘facts’ on whale watching boats stressing out the whales (you can read the research online that NOAA used to put a farther distance from the whales, and it clearly showed there was no evidence of whale watch boats affecting the whales, it was conjecture). Now research is showing that it’s the food, and perhaps, only additional conjecture, that when food is scarce, the boats, stress the whales out. Think that the Feds will reverse their decision? Not likely. It would have been much more useful to have had the Feds actually put in some bodies to enforce the existing regs rather than simply put more laws on the books that no one except legitimate businesses follow. But follow the money. Would be interesting to see how much those same shoreowners who shouted the loudest contributed to some of the current political campaigns.

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Not having enough Chinook salmon to eat stresses out southern resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest more than having boatloads of whale watchers nearby, according to hormone levels of whales summering in the Salish Sea. In lean times, however, the stress level normally associated with boats becomes more pronounced, further underscoring the importance of having enough prey, according to Katherine Ayres, an environmental and pet-behavior consultant who led the research while a University of Washington doctoral student in biology. Ayres is lead author of a paper appearing online June 6, in the journal PLoS ONE.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120606193452.htm

US Halts Makah Whaling Study After Seven Years – PDN

A 7-year-old study on the potential environmental impact of Makah whaling is being ditched, the federal government announced. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service and Department of Commerce issued a “notice to terminate” the draft environmental impact statement Monday. This is the latest development in lengthy legal battles over the Makah tribe’s treaty right to hunt whales — and comes only days after the 13th anniversary of a Makah whaling crew legally killing a gray whale off Neah Bay. U.S. halts Makah whaling study after seven years over ‘new scientific information’

Whaling Study for Makah by Feds Stopped

Sonar, explosives pose high risk for marine mammals – Tacoma News Tribune

The Navy is continuing to promote that they can expand their training here inside Puget Sound without harming marine mammals, yet more and more troubling information keeps coming out. Given that we have little ability to monitor the Navy actitivites, and strange things like porpoises and whales washing up dead with odd problems, it’s worthy of concern….

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The U.S. Navy may hurt more dolphins and whales by using sonar and explosives in Hawaii and California than thought, says an analysis that reflects new research and covers naval activities in a wider area than previous studies. The Navy estimates its use of explosives and sonar may unintentionally cause more than 1,600 instances of hearing loss or other injury to marine mammals each year, according to a draft environmental impact statement that covers training and testing planned from 2014 to 2019. The Navy calculates the explosives could potentially kill more than 200 marine mammals a year.

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/05/12/2140800/sonar-explosives-pose-high-risk.html

Orcas in Admiralty Inlet!

Lots of reports of orca sitings by the Orca Network. They went by in large numbers last week and again this week.

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