Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. IV No. 3 July 1995


There's a new book that you must have: Stellwagen Bank, A Guide to the Whales, Sea Birds, and Marine Life of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, by Nathalie Ward, for the Center for Coastal Studies, and published by Down East Books. Most of us are avid whalewatchers, to put it mildly, with wonderful memories of trips to Stellwagen and surrounding waters. We share an abiding interest in the rich diversity, history, and magic of one of the world's best whalewatching locations. Nathalie is a gifted author, accomplished scientist, and respected educator; she had no trouble collecting contributions from an amazing diversity of willing experts, including scientists, fishermen, historians, and specialists. Over 200 superb photographs and artful illustrations testify that everyone gave their best to this book. Even if you have never heard of Stellwagen, if you have an interest in the basic and beautiful realities of any marine ecosystem you will benefit from this book. Rich but easy reading, Stellwagen Bank is a book by people who really care, about a place that deserves it. $14.95, ordered directly from the Center for Coastal Studies, P.O. Box 1036, Provincetown, MA 06257, or from most good book stores.

Two other outstanding books to be highly recommended are by Mark Carwardine, for WDCS: The Eyewitness Handbook Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises illustrates all known species in a compact, accurate, beautifully created book, and seems to be readily available in book stores. The second is Carwardine's enthralling On the Trail of the Whale, a personal odyssey of adventure and discovery that anyone can enjoy immensely, and it's also available from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Alexander House, James St. West, Bath, Avon BA1 2BT, UK. You may fax an order to (from the U.S.) 011-44-1225-480097. All three of these excellent books will be superb reading on your favorite whalewatch.

Our favorite whalewatch operator, Provincetown's Dolphin Fleet, has announced special offshore "Oceanic Exploration" all-day cruises through August, offering great opportunities for both whalewatchers and birders to Great South Channel, Jeffreys and Fippennies Ledges, and Wildcat knoll. With CCS naturalists on board, and limited to 100 people, the trips run from 8AM to 4PM, and cost $45. For this bargain, book directly through the Dolphin Fleet at 800-826-9300 or 508-349-1900. What a great way to first read Ward's Stellwagen book!

Where else can you have an incredible ecotourist holiday and save whales but Dominica? World class diving and whalewatching are only part of this Caribbean nation's environmental jewels, and it is vital that ecotourism income increase to stave off Dominica's economic vulnerability to Japanese development and whaling pressures. 70% of their income is from banana exports, now threatened with U.S. efforts to end European banana quotas. June's elections brought the United Workers Party to power, and both the new Prime Minister, the Honorable Eddison James, and the Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Norris Provost, have a very strong conservation policy. Yes, it sounds complicated, so just remember Dominica when you think of an outstanding adventure that will help support the things you care about.

"Kalina", an orca at Florida's Sea World, gave birth to her second calf on June 17th, almost ten years after her own captive birth on September 6, 1985. We wish them well. According to Sea World, Kalina is an excellent example of successful captive breeding programs. At four, in February, 1990, she was first separated from her mother to begin a 16 month tour of all Sea World parks until, in Texas, she became pregnant by Kotar at age six. Her first calf, "Keet", was born February 2, 1993, the first second-generation captive orca birth. In January 1994 she became pregnant again by Kotar, and was quietly moved back to Orlando in October, in her 9th month, leaving her calf "Keet" behind. Science has documented that wild orcas first give birth at about 14 years of age, with the earliest known at 12. Young but physically mature females are observed babysitting, undoubtedly learning maternal and social skills through close observation within their tight-knit matriarchal families we define as pods. They and most of their children will stay in that family pod for life. Meanwhile the Vancouver Aquarium's orca breeding program is being ended after the third failure, amidst an enormous public outcry; Bjossa's last calf died just after birth in March. The male, Finna, will be exchanged for a female, and speculation suggests that at least Sea World's corporate need for a reproductive male may be solved.

Update on ATOC: The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has obtained the required federal and state permits, and will proceed with a revised version of its Acoustic Thermometry of Ocean Climate (ATOC) program. Originally intended to detect global warming by measuring the temperature of the deep ocean over a period of several years, it has been converted into a two-year Marine Mammal Research Program (MMRP) to study the effects of the ATOC sound source on marine mammals. The original ten-year project may come up for reconsideration at the conclusion of the MMRP.

Refer to the next article on ATOC: ATOC: The Controversy Continues, in Vol. IV No. 4, October 1995

Go to next article: CSI's Annual Whale Watch or: Back to Contents.

© Copyright 1995, Cetacean Society International, Inc.