There are multiple government agencies that are responsible for overseeing the care and well-being of Lolita, the only surviving member of the Southern Resident orcas that is still trapped in captivity. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is responsible for making sure the Miami Seaquarium’s tanks comply with regulations (they don’t).
First we saw the white movement, gracefully weaving under the water. The unmistakeable turquoise water above a pod of mature Risso’s dolphins who were swimming just below the surface, at some distance from our boat, off Pico in the Azores. This made me feel at home, we see the same behaviour in our own study area in the Minch off the Isle of Lewis in western Scotland.
I had a really nice (and unexpected) Photo ID trip with my friends from Aberdeen University recently and although the weather wasn't brilliant it was still good enough to get some nice pictures. We came across twenty or so dolphins including no less than FIVE of this years babies scooting about with their Mums including ID#1028 "Lilith" and her gorgeous wee bundle.
With the end of the six weeks holidays coming near here at the Scottish Dolphin Centre we will be celebrating in style! Over the past few weeks we have been seeing lots of dolphin activity with pod sizes ranging from just two individuals to twelve! The ospreys who will be preparing for their long migration back to Africa have been spotted fishing at the mouth of the River Spey multiple times a day and a peregrine falcon has been seen around the Bay.
We are, at long last getting some badly needed rain up here which will hopefully let more salmon migrate up the river systems. There are just enough sea trout and salmon in the area to keep our dolphins going food wise, but the numbers are only enough to keep small groups of dolphins interested.
The NZ government has just launched the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary on the east coast of the South Island. The area is biologically rich and includes 500m deep ocean canyons which are home to giant squid which is the preferred prey of sperm whales.
The sanctuary is nearly 5000 square kilometres in area and provides protection for the sperm, humpback, Southern right, blue, killer and other whales that frequent the area. It is particularly relevant for the local and well established sperm whale tourism industry which is now worth $134 million dollars a year.
Sperm whales are among the many deep water species that I have been lucky enough to have seen in the last week (including Northern bottlenose whales, Sowerby’s beaked whales, pilot whales, Risso’s dolphins...) off Pico in the Azores. Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales, one of the deepest diving and perhaps the most incredible looking. Volcanic islands make ideal habitats for such species, where the steep sides of the underwater mountain chain quickly drops away to more than 2,000 metres and mixing waters produce nutrients from the depths.
Two killer whales were captured in recent weeks in Nikolaya Gulf, in the southwestern Sea of Okhotsk, the Russian Far East. The captors are reporting that the orcas were actually taken in 2013 and spent the winter in Nikolaya Gulf. This is impossible because the Gulf is completely frozen in winter. Word is that the orcas are being transported toward Komsomolsk-on-Amur, 356 km NE of Khabarovsk. Final destination is unknown.
This past week saw the identification of yet another new species of dolphin (an Australian humpback dolphin called Sousa sahulensis): http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/03/australian-snubfin-and-humpback-dolphins-at-risk-of-localised-extinction?utm_content=buffer59341&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer