Cetacean Society International

Working for whales, dolphins and porpoises worldwide

Actions, Alerts & Updates


Join the Campaign To Save the World's Most Endangered Cetacean

Posted on 24 June 2018

By Kate O'Connell, from the upcoming issue of Whales Alive!

July 7th 2018 has been designated as International Save the Vaquita Day, an annual event similar to Earth Day, focused on bringing the plight of the world's tiniest and most endangered cetacean, the vaquita, to the public's attention. Organized by the non-profit group Viva Vaquita, there are actions and events taking place around the world. With fewer than 30 of these tiny porpoised remaining, urgent action must be taken to protect them.

Vaquita are threatened by entanglement in gillnet fishing gear for shrimp and fish species, in Mexico's upper Gulf of California, especially illegal fishing by poachers looking for the totoaba, a large fish whose swim bladder is highly prized on Asian markets. These bladders, known as buches, can sell for as much as $15,000 and trafficking in these bladders have brought the vaquita to the brink of extinction.

Please consider joining in one of the many International Save the Vaquita Day events, or even organizing an event of your own. You can find out more about where these rallies will be held by visiting http://www.vivavaquita.org/. We also ask that if you eat seafood, to please avoid purchasing Mexican shrimp until such time as that industry can prove that it is "vaquita safe". You can take the pledge to support the vaquita by going to https://www.change.org/p/boycott-mexican-shrimp-take-the-pledge

Proposed FY2019 budget takes aim at programs that protect whales and dolphins

Posted on 14 February 2018

ACTION NEEDED: The newly released Presidential FY 2019 budget has taken direct aim at programs that are critical for the conservation of whales and dolphins. The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), an independent government agency that provides science-based reviews of U.S. ocean policies that impact marine mammals and their environment, has been targeted for elimination. The cost of the MMC's work to the US taxpayer? One penny per person per year.

The budget also looks to cut overall funding to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by 14 percent. Even worse, the NMFS enforcement budget would be slashed by 25 percent putting cetaceans at risk from a variety of illegal activities. There are also serious cuts proposed to critical research on protected species, and habitat conservation and restoration.

Fortunately, there is still time to stop these cuts from taking place, but we need your help.

Please join us in voicing your concerns about the FY 2019 budget proposals, and the negative impacts such cuts will have on whales, dolphins and porpoises. Contact your Senators and Representatives in Congress and tell them to save the Marine Mammal Commission, and ensure that NMFS has adequate funding to protect cetaceans and their environment.

You can find contact details at http://www.congress.gov/

Thank you.

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2017
Contact: David Kaplan Esq, President davidgkaplan@gmail.com, c 860-966-2077
William Rossiter, Director, Grants and Science, rossiter@csiwhalesalive.org, c 203-770-8615

North Atlantic Right Whale Among Endangered Species Decisions Undercut by Politics

New Report: Science Suppressed, Ignored Due to Political Pressure

Washington, D.C. – A new report out today shows that the best available science in imperiled plant and wildlife decisions isn't always followed, despite the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. Pressure from politically-powerful special interests often unduly influences these decisions, undermining science and wildlife conservation, according to the Endangered Species Coalition. Now, under the Trump Administration, that pressure is worsening.

The report, "Suppressed: How Politics Drowned out Science for Ten Endangered Species" highlights ten imperiled fish, plant and wildlife conservation decisions over the last decade in which the science was either ignored or suppressed as a result of intense special interest lobbying and influence. The report includes the imperiled North Atlantic right whale, which is threatened by entanglements, ship strikes, seismic surveys, and offshore energy exploitation.

Connecticut-based Cetacean Society International (CSI) nominated the right whale for the report. "Scientific data show that entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes have put the species on a trajectory to extinction," said William Rossiter, CSI's Director, Grants and Science. "The Administration and Congress are intent on accelerating the loss of this species by promoting the exploitation of offshore oil and gas extraction in the direct path of the whales' migratory route." Key right whale habitat includes both the foraging grounds off New England and calving grounds off Florida.

"The situation is critical," said Rossiter. "Roughly 450 right whales survive in the entire North Atlantic, but more animals are dying than are born into the population. In addition, females are dying in greater numbers than males. The survival of the species now depends on those few females able to give birth and rear their calves, despite having to migrate through the dangerous maze of fishing gear, the cacophony of offshore oil and gas operations and the increasing threats of ship strikes."

Congress is looking to pass legislation that will weaken both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act, legislation fundamental to the right whales' survival.

The stifling of science has been widespread under the Trump Administration this past year, as it slashed science budgets at NASA, NOAA, EPA, and other agencies. The Administration has also hired industry representatives to run its agencies, pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords and deemed a scientific background unnecessary for positions that require scientific knowledge. Agency scientists have been silenced, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has consistently rolled back science-based rules in favor of polluters.

"Our native fish, plants and wildlife aren't just a critically valuable part of the legacy we leave for future generations of Americans, they're key to providing a good quality of life for all humans right now," said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "But we are concerned that the prevalence of special interest, industry representatives inside the Trump Administration is intensifying the suppression of science in endangered species decisions."

Endangered Species Coalition's member groups nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with a slideshow and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded at http://SuppressedScience.org/.

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a "Top 10" report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years' reports are also available on the Coalition's website.

Notes for Editors:

Four species in the report – the wolverine, greater sage grouse, dunes sagebrush lizard and the Hermes copper butterfly – were denied protection under the Endangered Species Act, in spite of massive, historic population declines and severe threats to the species. And just last week, the Trump Administration denied listing for four more imperiled species (on top of the 29 others denied protection under the Act this past year).

Late last month, the Trump Administration finalized a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf, one of the most endangered mammals in North America. The plan ignored the scientific recommendations of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's own Mexican Wolf Recovery Team, calling for a minimum population of only half the number of wolves that the scientists recommended.

Another rare and endangered Southwest U.S. species in the report – the ocelot – is threatened with increased habitat fragmentation as a result of President Trump's proposed border wall. The border wall would obstruct essential migration routes, not only for the ocelot, but for an estimated 90 other imperiled species.

Two other water-dwelling species in the report were also victims of science suppression, including the pallid sturgeon and the Pacific leatherback sea turtle. One of the largest reptiles in the world, the leatherback can journey more than 10,000 miles between habitats. This past June, the Trump administration withdrew a proposed regulation on drift gillnets (used to catch swordfish) in response to persistent lobbying from the commercial fishing industry.

In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the greater sage grouse as endangered, citing an unprecedented region-wide habitat conservation effort, tied to state and federal conservation plans. However, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke is threatening to undo even these modest, bipartisan conservation measures. Meanwhile, sage grouse numbers have declined by 90 percent from historic levels. Protecting umbrella species like sage grouse conserves habitats on which many other species rely, like mule deer and pronghorn.

STOP CONGRESS FROM REMOVING PROTECTIONS FOR CETACEANS

Posted on 15 November 2017

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Please contact your Representatives in Congress and tell them to vote against H.R. 4239. If passed, this bill will strip the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of key provisions designed to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises from the impacts of oil industry development, including seismic airgun testing and drilling.

We need a strong MMPA now more than ever, given the increasing threats facing cetaceans, which include entanglement in fishing gear, climate change, noise pollution and habitat destruction. As the Marine Mammal Protection Act turns 45, we must work to protect and strengthen its provisions, not weaken them. Please, take action now and tell your Congressperson to vote "no" on H.R. 4239.

You can find contact details at www.house.gov. Thank you.

Mexico City ends commercial exploitation of marine mammals in captive facilities

Posted on 2 August 2017

On August 1st, 2017, the Mexico City Congress passed a bill in the Law of Protection of Animals prohibiting the use of marine mammals in any human-related activity such as shows, training, assisted therapy, etc..

Currently, there is one facility holding dolphins and sea lions in Mexico City, the SIX FLAGS facility in southern Mexico City. This is the former REINO AVENTURA park, which years ago held the orca Keiko, of Free Willy fame. The owner of the facility is Dolphin Discovery, and two dolphins and two sea lions are in captivity there.

The bill includes a six month period to take the animals to sea pens or a kind of sanctuary. CSI's colleague organization COMARINO was very close to the process of passing the bill, and collaborated in the drafting of the initiative led by Green Party deputy Xavier Lopez Adame.

The final result, thanks to the good work of deputy Lopez Adame was that all parties voted for the prohibition, without any fight between left or right politics. Dolphins were acknowledged as sentient beings, who suffer when held in concrete tanks. The next step for the bill is its publication in the Official Gazette of Mexico City, at which point the bill enters into force. The city Congress have spoken loudly: no dolphins in concrete tanks anymore.

Save the Endangered Species Act!

Posted on 8 July 2017

Showing Overwhelming Support for the Endangered Species Act, More Than 400 Conservation Groups Sign Letter Opposing Efforts to Weaken Wildlife Law

CSI has signed this letter!

Click here for more information.

Read the full text of the letter here.

International Save the Vaquita Day: July 8, 2017

Posted on 20 June 2017

Help to save the vaquita, one of the rarest and most endangered species of marine mammal in the world.

Click here for more information.

The Ocean Home Under Attack: Whale News Spring 2017

By Taffy Lee Williams

Posted on 30 May 2017

Here are just a few of the latest news items which are impacting whale species around the world. Today we are witnessing the earth's sixth mass extinction. One cannot separate news of the oceans from news of whales. These iconic, well studied and beloved whales mean so much to us, symbolizing looming issues we all face on the Blue Earth today. What's happening in the seas?

Taffy's article follows in this PDF file:

WHALE_NEWS_3-17-2.pdf

Empty The Tanks 2017: May 13th at Mystic Aquarium!

Posted on 25 April 2017

On May 13th, we will be standing outside Mystic Aquarium, at 55 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, CT 06355 holding signs and giving away flyers from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., as we did for the past two years as part of the Empty the Tanks global awareness campaign. Please join us!

Click here for details! (PDF file)

The Southern Right Whale In Patagonia Argentina:
"Whale Watching, Biology And Beyond"

Posted on 9 April 2017

If you're a dedicated whale watcher, you'll be excited to know that Argentina's Gulf of San Matias may provide the experience of a lifetime many have felt with the gray whales of Mexico. Because small commercial whale watches have started to bring people together with "friendly" Southern right whales in this Gulf, a scientific assessment was requested by the "Asociación de Operadores Náuticos" to the "Fundación de Historia Natural Felix de Azara" (FHNFA), to document any impact on the whales and the marine environment. Documenting the whales' behavior and biology was also part of this project. Dra. Marcela Junin and her team from the Marine mammal lab, Fundación Felix de Azara, began their assessment in 2014, with additional support from CSI in 2016.

Dra. Junin has provided this report for your pleasure, from the broad wealth of data she will submit for her formal scientific report. While CSI is especially pleased that we could help support the study, we're dedicated whale watchers at heart, and wonder when we'll have a chance to experience this ourselves!

Dra. Junin's report follows in this PDF file:

Argentina_Junin_Report.pdf

Virgin Holidays Announces Position on Captive Whales and Dolphins

Posted on 20 February 2017

A statement from Virgin Holidays says: "Our vision is for a future in which tourism embraces the complex social and physical needs of cetaceans and their habitats."

Read their full statement here: https://www.virginholidays.co.uk/cetaceans

The World Cetacean Alliance endorses Virgin's announcement today and is committed to working with Virgin and other stakeholders in the travel industry to achieve it. Said CEO Dylan Walker, "We believe in tourism as a huge force for good, with the potential to protect whales and dolphins and their habitats for people to enjoy long into the future. This statement brings us an important step closer to that reality."

Read their full statement here: http://worldcetaceanalliance.org/wca-endorses-virgin-holidays-long-term-vision-for-cetaceans-in-tourism/

CSI is a founding member of the World Cetacean Alliance.

May Tilikum Rest in Peace

Posted on 7 January 2017

Please read this notice from the World Cetacean Alliance.

Tribute to Tilikum

A life well lived… Isn't that the finest epitaph anyone can wish for? In the case of Granny (J2), beloved matriarch of the endangered Southern Resident population, that is indeed the case. In the first week of January 2017, as we learned of Granny's passing, the loss of another high profile orca, Tilikum (Chinook tribal language for 'friend') also made headline news. But while Granny's 105-year-old lifespan was spent in the wild, Tilikum's fate has been of a much darker kind.

Brutally torn from his family off Iceland as a 2-year-old in 1983, after a year's confinement in a holding tank Tilikum was sold to the now defunct Sealand of the Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia. Bullying by two dominant female orcas in a concrete tank replaced swimming in his mother's slipstream in the open ocean; begging for a meal of dead fish after performing a trick (or being deprived of food if he did not co-operate) replaced hunting for live prey. Granny, too, was captured more than once, but she was not one of those orcas selected for dispatch to marine parks around the world.

Following trainer Keltie Byrne's death at Sealand of the Pacific in 1991,Tilikum, branded a dangerous commodity, was sold to SeaWorld, Orlando, where he would endure more bullying from other orcas. With his flopped over dorsal fin, the classic hallmark sign of orcas in captivity, and his broken, drilled teeth, Tilikum continued to perform for a voracious, thrill-seeking public, oblivious to the pain behind the pleading eyes of the ocean's top predator rendered helpless by enslavement.

With two more deaths to his name, namely Daniel Dukes in 1999 and trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, Tilikum was sentenced to solitary confinement in the medical pool. Here, deprived of stimuli and compatible companionship, he lay motionless at the surface for hours. Yet he still represented a valuable investment to SeaWorld, worth more alive than dead. His future would be that of a sperm bank to perpetuate the ongoing reproduction of captive orcas.

After months of varying reports on Tilikum's health, he has succumbed to eternity. But despite his long-term suffering, Tilikum's life has not been in vain… His tragic plight, along with the death of Dawn Brancheau, spawned the haunting documentary film 'Blackfish' which revealed the stark truth about the cruelty of captivity. SeaWorld, the corporate entity which used and abused Tilikum, watched helplessly as a shocked public turned their backs on the Shamu show and profits fell, spiralling into a black and bottomless abyss. In 2016 they announced there would be no more captive orca breeding.

This, in addition to the banning by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) of trainers in the water performing degrading stunts riding on the backs of orcas and rocket-hopping from their rostrums, is Tilikum's legacy. If he sought revenge, he has had it. May he, as Granny did in her lifetime, now swim free.

Sandra Pollard
WCA Individual Partner (USA)

Author of –
Puget Sound Whales for Sale: The Fight to End Orca Hunting
(The History Press)

Source: http://worldcetaceanalliance.org/2017/01/07/tribute-to-tilikum/

(CSI is a Proud Founding Member of the World Cetacean Alliance)

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