Saturday, May 31, 2008

If You Encounter a Stranded Marine Mammal . . .
The following tips were provided in the 2008 Vol. 37, Number 1 issue of the Journal Of the American Cetacean Society: "Whalewatcher" (and were adapted from The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito, CA). If you ever happen to encounter a beached or stranded animal, please observe the following precautions:

1. Don't touch, don't pick up, and don't feed the animal. Don't return the animal to the water. Seals and sea lions temporarily "haul out" on land to rest, and mothers may briefly leave their pups while at sea. A beached whale or dolphin should be reported immediately.

2. Observe the animal from a distance of at least 50 feet. Keep people and dogs away.

3. Note the animal's physical characteristics to help inform the response agency.

4. Note the animal's condition. Is it weak? Is it underweight? Are there any open wounds?

5. Note whether the animal has any identification tags or markings.

6. Determine exact location of the animal, note landmarks, and be prepared to provide accurate directions.

7. Call the appropriate response agency. To find the phone number for the authorized stranding network organization in your area, visit the NOAA Fisheries Web site.
Polar Bears Listed as Threatened Species
On May 15, 2008, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service organization pronounced the polar bear a "Threatened Species" under the Endangered Species Act. The loss of icy polar habitat that the polar bears face as a result of melting sea ice poses a severe problem for them. With less ice, polar bears face a much tougher time finding food and some polar bears even end up drowning because the distance between ice floes is too far for to swim. The categorization of "threatened" means that polar bears are at risk of becoming endangered in the foreseeable future. While it's very sad that things have reached the point of a "Threatened" classification, hopefully, this classification will also help focus needed resources on preserving the polar bears' pristine environment before it's truly too late for them. Here's a link to the U.S. Department of the Interior's press release on the topic and a link to polar bear information and videos from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.