Sunday, September 23, 2007

Third Blue Whale Found Dead
Yet another Blue whale has been found dead in the waters offshore southern California. This time, the whale was found floating belly-up in the Santa Barbara Channel and was then towed to shore to a beach at Point Mugu, where a necropsy was conducted. It was determined that the whale was killed by ship strike. The whale was male, about 60-feet long, and had multiple broken bones & ribs, as well as a smashed cranium. The Los Angeles Times reports that a great white shark attempted to attack one of the boats that towed the whale in. Other reports also say that sharks have been feeding on the whale carcass at sea.

As you can see in the photo as well as the video that accompanies this post, Blue whales often linger at the surface while they go through multiple, fairly slow breathing cycles before diving. This summer, there have been more Blue whales than usual in the Santa Barbara channel. When the whales rest in the shipping paths of large container ships, they may not be able to dive quickly enough to escape a strike.

While it's unknown whether disease or military-sonar disturbances played any additional roles, it does appear that all three deaths were the result of ship collisions. In addition to the Point Mugu whale, the Faria Beach whale (see earlier post), another Blue whale was found in the Long Beach Harbor and it likely arrived on the bow of a large container ship without the ship's knowledge. It's unfortunate that human activity has caused the loss of these whales because the Blue whale is an endangered species and each individual loss may have consequences for the future population.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

In Search of . . . a Blue Whale Carcass
My curiosity got the better of me and I went searching for the Blue whale carcass that washed up on the shores of southern, CA (see earlier post). In the coming days,
I will be posting many photos to the OceanSpot channel of Flickr and many videos to the OceanSpot channel of YouTube. Stay tuned for more details...
Blue Whale Carcass Near Ventura California -- Whale Death Was Caused By Ship
by Jennifer Schwartz,
A Blue whale carcass that washed ashore Thursday evening (September 13, 2007) near Hobson County Park near Ventura, CA was towed to Faria Park in Ventura County, CA this morning.
An animal autopsy, or "necropsy," was conducted on the whale, where it was determined that the whale was female, approximately 15-20 years old (note: later reports estimated her age at 3-5 years), had been dead for about 8 days, was approximately 120,000 to 140,000 pounds, and had been struck by a ship, which caused her death.
The ship strike was severe, causing a 20-foot bruise under the blubber layer of the whale, and most likely causing paralysis.
While the Blue whale is an endangered species, they have appeared in unusually high numbers in the Santa Barbara Channel this summer, most likely a result of following their main food source (krill) into the channel.

Coastal Cleanup Day at Malibu Lagoon
Today was International Coastal Cleanup day and volunteers around the world helped clean up coastal areas that are littered with far too much waste. I lent a hand at the Malibu Lagoon in Malibu, CA. The volunteer force at this site ended up collecting roughly 470 pounds of trash (or thereabouts). It was pretty amazing to see the types of junk our fellow human beings toss on the ground without a second thought. Food wrappers, plastic bags, styrofoam, cigarette butts, plastic bottles, cans, and more...the list is endless. Each small piece of trash poses a severe threat to marine and bird life. Our trash is often easily mistaken for food and if a bird or marine mammal ingests plastic, it may very well end their lives. Please don't litter! And if possible, please lend a hand to pick up trash when you see it...especially around coastal may save an animal's life.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New Whale Videos Posted
This past weekend was yet another amazing one for whale-watching in southern California. Our captain says we spotted 48 Blue Whales on our Saturday outing in the Santa Barbara Channel. Many of these whales were swimming off in the distance, but I'd say we got a close-up view of 20-25 of them. This number is hard to fathom, considering the fact that they are highly endangered animals, as mentioned in an earlier post. Despite the unbearably hot temperatures on land, it was quite chilly out on the water and the water was very rough due to high winds. As a result of the turbulent waters, many of my videos have a dizzying perspective, but there were a few good ones in the bunch and I'll be posting those to the OceanSpot Channel of YouTube. Here's a compilation of the whale videos that are currently posted on the OceanSpot Channel of YouTube. This video loop includes various of species of whales in the wild:

Seen Any Troglobites Lately?
If so, then they probably haven't seen you, considering the fact that they are eyeless. Troglobites live in caves and include various species of millipedes, spiders, worms, blind salamanders, and eyeless fish. Since they live in caves, which inherently have little, if any, sunlight, they have little need for sight and have evolved their other senses more fully.

These eyeless cave animals are known as "true troglobites," while the animals who have partial eyesight are known as "troglophiles." Troglophiles may live near the entrance of the cave, or in an area where there is partial light. The September 2007 issue of National Geographic has an interesting story about these creatures along with many interesting & mysterious photos. As with countless species of animals around the world, even these small critters face an uncertain future due to pollution, vandalism, and quarrying. (The photo in this post appeared in the National Geographic Photo Gallery about this story and was taken by David Liittschwager.)
International Coastal Cleanup Day: Saturday, September 15, 2007
If you live in a coastal region and would like to volunteer some of your time to a worthy environmental cause, consider spending part of your day helping to clean up the shoreline. Cleanups are being held in most states within the U.S. as well as in many countries abroad. Volunteers on both foot and in boats are needed. For more information, visit the International Coastal Cleanup page on the Ocean Conservancy's web site that has more information about time, location, and more details about how to help. If you can't make it out on 9/15, consider doing a little cleanup on your own time next time you see trash around a beach, a coastal region, or anywhere outside for that matter. Picking up and properly disposing of a single plastic bag can help save the live of a marine animal or bird.