tagged w/ Whale Protection
'Killer' cruise liner strikes again: THIRD endangered whale found under giant vessel's bow
By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 3:37 AM on 31st July 2010
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A rare humpback whale has been found dead after it was hit by a luxury cruise liner near Douglas Island, Alaska.
The 43ft-long female humpback was found stuck on the bow of the Sapphire Princess after becoming attached overnight.
U.S. Coast Guard officials detained the liner for three hours to open an investigation and remove the whale’s body.
Investigation: A dead adult female humpback whale is pinned to the bow of the Princess Cruises liner
It is the second incident in a year for the Princess Cruises vessel after a dead fin whale was discovered pinned to its bow as it arrived at the Port of Vancouver from an Alaska voyage.
Fin whales, like humpbacks, are classified as endangered.
* Experts warn dead whale pinned to Princess cruise ship will not be the last
Biologists and marine-mammal experts were yesterday examining the whale carcass and experts will conduct a necropsy today to try to determine the cause of death.
A Princess spokesman said it was 'fully cooperating' with the investigation.
Officials remove the whale carcass from the vessel's bow
Second incident: A dead fin whale was discovered pinned to the Sapphire Princess last year
The humpback was hit by the luxury cruise liner near Douglas Island, Alaska
'We were surprised and concerned by this discovery, as the ship felt no impact,’ he said.
‘It is unknown how or when this could have happened, as we were not aware that any whales were sighted in close proximity to the ship when the whale was discovered.
'We have strict whale avoidance procedures in place when our ships are in the vicinity of marine life.’
The Sapphire Princess is on a seven-day Inside Passage round-trip voyage out of Seattle.
In 2007, the company paid $750,000 (£480,000) to settle a criminal charge related to a dead pregnant humpback found just outside Alaska's Glacier Bay in 2001.
That whale was found to have had its skull crushed.
Although Princess did not admit in the settlement to striking the whale, the company pleaded guilty to failing to operate one of its vessels, the Dawn Princess, at a safe speed around whales.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1298891/Cruise-liner-kills-endangered-humpback-whale-Alaska-trip.html#ixzz0vJknZ8s9'Killer' cruise liner strikes again: THIRD endangered whale found under... more
Blog Tuesday, July 27, 2010 // Blog home »
Gulf journal: Whale research group a ‘voice from the sea’
Docked in Gloucester, Massachusetts, is a 93-foot vessel that’s circumnavigated the world doing whale research. For three laborious weeks, volunteer Jim Casey helped make sure the Odyssey was ready for its mission to explore marine life in the oily Gulf of Mexico.
Casey put in hard work painting and refitting the boat for its lengthy voyage down the coast of New England to the Gulf of Mexico. The self-described amateur filmmaker captured the crew’s preparations and brought this story to light on CNN iReport.
The Gloucester native volunteered with Ocean Alliance, a nonprofit group of whale and marine researchers. His hometown is the oldest seaport in the U.S. and has a rich maritime history steeped in its fishing industry. These days, that industry is dying and locals such as Casey are turning to whale research groups instead.
“It was really a privilege to be part of something,” he said. “Everybody’s so appalled about what’s happening in the Gulf. Just to be able to do something is the little way I can contribute.”
Once the Odyssey sailed off into the high seas on July 5, Casey bid the vessel adieu and followed the Odyssey researchers’ work from afar.
Ocean Alliance and the University of Southern Maine will be studying the Gulf’s marine life for the next three months. The group of about a dozen would like to observe whales and grow cell lines to see how species react to various toxins in the Gulf. All of this is taking place aboard the Odyssey, the only cell-line laboratory at sea in the world, according to Ocean Alliance.
The group aims to be a “voice from the sea,” says Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr. He says the team wants to contribute independent research and analysis about this environmental disaster.
As the Odyssey makes its way to the Gulf, scientists are collecting samples along the way so they have a basis of what marine life is like now, just in case the oil creeps up the Atlantic Coast.
When it comes to sampling, the group will be catching fish, trolling for plankton and biopsying whales. A specially designed biopsy dart is the secret to gathering whale tissue. Once fired from a crossbow, the dart skims the whale and removes a tissue sample the size of a pencil eraser. These mammals the size of school buses usually don’t flinch, and Kerr insists the procedure doesn’t hurt.
These samples will then be grown in petri dishes, where researchers will expose the cells to contaminants. Kerr says it will take years of sampling and testing on return trips to determine the full effects of the oil disaster.
The Odyssey is set to reach Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this weekend to pick up more supplies before cruising to Mobile, Alabama. Kerr will only be on the boat intermittently, as his CEO duties and paperwork often bring him ashore. As for Casey, he’s been reading the ship’s logs online and calling the ship’s captain to make sure everything’s going according to plan.
Editor's Note: This blog post is part of a series of profiles of Gulf Coast residents and visitors directly affected by the oil disaster. If you'd like to share your story, you can upload photos and videos to CNN iReport.Blog Tuesday, July 27, 2010 // Blog home »
Gulf journal: Whale research group a... more
Obama to launch ocean initiative
The stewardship policy embraces a controversial zoning practice that could change how the U.S. regulates drilling, fishing and other maritime activities.
By Jim Tankersley, Tribune Washington Bureau
July 19, 2010
Reporting from Washington
President Obama on Monday is set to create a national stewardship policy for America's oceans and Great Lakes, including a type of zoning that could dramatically rebalance the way government regulates offshore drilling, fishing and other marine activities.
The policy would not create new regulations or immediately alter drilling plans or fisheries management. But White House documents and senior administration officials suggest it would strengthen conservation and ecosystem protection.
The initiative culminates more than a year of work by a federal Ocean Policy Task Force, which Obama established last year. After the task force releases its final recommendations, the president is expected to sign an executive order directing federal agencies to adopt and implement them.
Calling the BP oil spill ravaging the Gulf of Mexico a "stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are," the recommendations center on creating a National Ocean Council to coordinate regulation of oceans and the Great Lakes, and on a principle of "ecosystem-based management" for marine areas.
The council would include top federal scientists and officials from a variety of agencies, including national security experts, environmental regulators and managers of ocean commerce.
The recommendations embrace a controversial practice called marine spatial planning, a zoning process of sorts that seeks to manage waters in the way some cities manage factories and strip malls. The process could result in confining activities such as drilling, shipping and conservation to areas the planners deem best-suited to each use.
Nine regional groups — consisting of state, federal and tribal officials — would draft plans for conservation and use of ocean resources that would have to be approved by the National Ocean Council. Federal agencies have agreed to abide by the plans.
If the Great Lakes regional body designated certain lake areas for offshore wind farms, for example, the Interior Department would agree to approve wind farms only within those areas.
The same would be true for any new offshore drilling projects. Currently, Interior officials develop drilling plans under a public comment process within their department.
In Southern California, the heavy focus on "ecosystem-based management" could cause the U.S. Navy to retool its fleet deployment, with an eye on how its operations affect water quality or whales.
The recommendations do not specify their effect on offshore drilling. Administration officials said the new policy would not prejudge or conflict with future findings of the bipartisan commission Obama had charged with investigating the oil gusher.
But the administration says coordinated, stewardship-heavy ocean management is likely to "really change" practices in nearly every marine activity, drilling included. The final task force report predicts that the changes would help restore fish populations, protect human health and "rationally allow" for ocean uses such as energy production.
"This sets the nation on a path toward much more comprehensive planning to both conservation and sustainable use of [ocean] resources," said a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the policy had not been officially announced.
The first draft of the policy, released in September, drew heavy criticism from some quarters, including industry and recreational anglers concerned that sport fishing might be restricted or banned.
After a deluge of criticism and meetings with fishing and boating groups, the administration modified the recommendations to emphasize the importance of fishing and ocean recreation, calling them "critical to the economic, social and cultural fabric of our country."
The recommendations do not include curbs on recreational fishing. But the mere prospect of marine spatial planning has drawn skepticism from ocean users.
Oil and gas officials are concerned too. They have repeatedly urged the administration not to adopt any planning process that could restrict offshore drilling.
Last fall, for example, a representative of the American Petroleum Institute testified at a task force field hearing, "The oil and natural gas industry's presence in the Gulf [of Mexico] has successfully coexisted with other ocean uses like tourism, fishing, the U.S. military and shipping for many years, demonstrating that the current system of governance works well."
The new plan would emphasize nine areas under the broad banner of marine stewardship and conservation, including improved scientific research and mapping; helping coastal communities adapt to climate change and ocean acidification, particularly in the Arctic; and enhancing water quality on land to boost ocean water quality.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Timeslatimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obama-ocean-20100719,0,1686762.story... more