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News articles on Cetaceans

Mongabay.com news articles on Cetaceans in blog format. Updated regularly.









The long-ignored ocean emergency and what can be done to address it

(08/18/2008) This year has been full of bad news regarding marine ecosystems: one-third of coral species threatened with extinction, dead-zones spread to 415 sites, half of U.S. reefs in fair or bad condition, increase in ocean acidification, tuna and shark populations collapsing, and only four percent of ocean considered pristine. Jeremy Jackson, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of California, San Diego, synthesizes such reports and others into a new paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that boldly lays out the scope of the oceanic emergency and what urgently needs to be done.


Whale biomimicry inspires better wind turbines

(07/07/2008) By studying and mimicking the characteristics of the flippers, fins and tails of whales and dolphins, engineers have devised more a efficient way to generate wind power, reports a researcher presenting at the Society for Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Marseille, France.


Humpback whale population is recovering

(05/21/2008) The number of humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean has increased substantially since international and federal protections were put into place in the 1960s and 70s, according to a new study involving more than 400 whale researchers throughout the Pacific region.


New species of river dolphin discovered in the Amazon

(04/30/2008) Researchers have identified a new species of river dolphin in the Bolivian Amazon according to the Whale and Dolphin conservation Society (WDCS). The announcement was made at a conservation workshop in Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia.


The Arctic's most threatened marine mammals due to climate change

(04/25/2008) A recent study has measured the sensitivity to Arctic marine mammals to climate change. The study found that the three species most vulnerable to climate change are the hooded seal, the polar bear, and the narwhal: the common thread between these species being the loss of sea ice.


New expedition seeks evidence for survival of the 'extinct' Baiji

(04/16/2008) The EDGE program, apart of the London Zoological Society, has sent an expedition to the Yangtze River to survey local fishermen for any evidence that the Baiji may still survive.


Japan cancels plan to kill 50 humpback whales

(12/21/2007) Japan has canceled highly controversial plans to kill 50 humpback whales for purported "scietific purposes" (the meat is sold in fish markets) after widespread condemnation from environmentalists and governments. .


Evolution of whales challenged

(12/19/2007) Modern whales appear to have evolved from a raccoon-sized creature with the body of a small deer, according to scientists writing in the journal Nature. The results challenge the theory that cetaceans are descended from even-toed ungulates (artiodactyls) like hippos, as previous molecular analysis has suggested.


Only 150 vaquita remain

(11/19/2007) Only 150 individual vaquita, the world's smallest cetacean, remain, according to a new study published in conservation Biology. The species has been decimated as accidental bycatch in fishing nets in its Gulf of California habitat. Researchers--who say there may be only a two-year window to save the species from extinction--have launched a last-ditch conservation effort.


Whale stranded 1,000 miles up the Amazon river

(11/17/2007) An 18-foot minke whale was found beached on a sandbar 1,000 miles up a tributary of the Amazon river, reported Globo television and the Associated Press.


Apology for Whale Shooting given by Tribe

(09/13/2007) The ninth of September saw a gray whale shot and killed by members of the Makah Tribe, off the coast of the Washington Coast, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.


Gray whale populations a fraction of historic level

(09/10/2007) The current population of gray whales is one-third to one-fifth of the number found in the Pacific before industrial whaling began in the 19th century, reports a new study based on genetic analysis.


Squid chasing drove evolution of whale sonar

(09/06/2007) A University of California at Berkeley study argues that dolphins and other toothed whales developed sonar to chase schools of squid swimming near the ocean surface at night.


Rare Chinese river dolphin sighting in doubt

(09/01/2007) A prominent researcher is skeptical of last week's reported sighting of the baiji, the Chinese river dolphin declared extinct earlier this year, according to the New York Times. The sighting near Tongling city in Anhui Province -- widely reported in Chinese and Western media -- was captured on video.


Saving beautiful - and ugly - species from extinction

(08/30/2007) Allow me to wax poetic about the world's newest wildlife organization, EDGE. I must admit I'm a little in love. This singular organization was founded in January as a part of the London Zoological Society. Its basic tenants remain similar to other endangered species programs: survey populations, set up conservation programs, work with local governments and communities to ensure protection. However, what is unique about EDGE is not their approach to saving species, but rather the species they choose to focus their efforts on. This year they have selected ten mammalian species: the Yangztee River Dolphin, Attenborough's Long-Beaked Echidna, Hispaniolan Solenodon, Bactarian Camel, Pygmy Hippopotamus, Slender Loris, Hirola, Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, Bumblebee Bat, and the Long-eared Jerboa.


"Extinct" baiji river dolphin spotted alive in China

(08/29/2007) An "extinct" baiji has been spotted alive in the Yangtze River, reports Chinese state media.


Iceland halts whaling

(08/24/2007) With stagnant demand for whale meat nearly a year after ending its ban on commercial whaling, Iceland said it would not issue new whale-hunting quotas until it gets an export license from Japan, reports Reuters.


Extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin is confirmed

(08/08/2007) After an extensive six-week search scientists have confirmed the probable extinction of the baiji or Yangtze river dolphin. The freshwater dolphin's extinction had been reported late last year.


U.S. court blocks sonar testing to protect whales

(08/07/2007) A U.S. federal court blocked the Navy from using a type of sonar that environmentalists say pose a threat to whales off the coast of California. The judge noted that the Navy's own analyses concluded that the Southern California exercises "will cause widespread harm to nearly thirty species of marine mammals, including five species of endangered whales, and may cause permanent injury and death" and characterized the Navy's proposed mitigation measures as "woefully inadequate and ineffectual."


How to save the world's oceans from overfishing

(07/08/2007) Global fishing stocks are in trouble. After expanding from 18 millions tons in 1950 to around 94 million tons in 2000, annual world fish catch has leveled off and may even be declining. Scientists estimate that the number of large predatory fish in the oceans has fallen by 90 percent since the 1950s, while about one-quarter of the world's fisheries are overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. Despite these dire trends, the situation is changing. Today some of the world's largest environmental groups are focused on addressing the health of marine life and oceans, while sustainable fisheries management is at the top of the agenda for intergovenmental bodies. At the forefront of these efforts is Mike Sutton, director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's conservation program: the Center for the Future of the Oceans. The aquarium, which has long been recognized as one of the world's most important marine research facilities, is pioneering new strategies for protecting the planet's oceans. Sutton says the approach has four parts: establishing new marine protected areas, pushing for ocean policy reform, promoting sustainable seafood, and protecting wildlife and marine ecosystems.


Harpoon proves whale is 115-130 years old

(06/12/2007) A 19th-century weapon found in the neck of a 50-ton bowhead whale caught off Alaska shows that cetaceans can live more than 100 years, reports the Associated Press (AP).


South Korea fishermen cheat on whale killing

(05/09/2007) Fishermen in South Korea are killing far more whales than they claim, reports an article in New Scientist Magazine. DNA fingerprinting of whale meat purchased in local markets suggests that South Korea caught 827 minke whales between 1999 and 2003, well above the 458 they reported.


Japan will kill 50 humpbacks

(04/26/2007) Humpback whale populations are rebounding but concerns are rising over Japan's plans to kill 50 humpback whales for "scientific" research, reports a paper published in the latest issue of Science.


The news of extinction: western media's response to the demise of the Baiji

(04/01/2007) The news came and went with an alacrity that I found alarming, almost jolting. I waited for weeks, faithfully; I could not believe that the initial announcement would be followed by nothing but silence on the issue, no rationalizations, no opinions, no discussions, no outpourings of grief. Just silence.


Jumbo squid and sperm whales tagged

(03/08/2007) Scientists have simulatenously tagged sperm whales and jumbo squid off Mexico's Pacific coast, allowing them to be tracked by satellite even as they dive to depths exceeding 3000 feet. Details of the effort are published in in the March 12 edition of the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS).


China will continue search for 'extinct' baiji river dolphin

(12/18/2006) Chinese state media reports that scientists will continue to search for the baiji dolphin even after a 38-day search failed to produce any evidence of its existence in the Yangtze River.


Goodbye to the Baiji

(12/14/2006) After a short illness spurred by pollution, overfishing, boat traffic, and obstructions like dams, the Baiji was declared 'functionally extinct' last night. As a species, the river dolphin found only in China's Yangtze River was 20 million years. The Baiji is survived by other river dolphins, all themselves threatened, in the Ganges, Indus, Amazon, Orinoco, and La Plata rivers. No memorial service will be held.


The Vaquita, the world's smallest cetacean, dives toward extinction

(12/10/2006) Accidental death in fishing nets is driving the world's smallest cetacean, the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), towards extinction, according to a new study published in the current issue of Mammal Review, the official scientific periodical of the Mammal Society.


Chinese river dolphin nearly extinct says official

(12/03/2006) Xinhua, China's state news agency, reported that a 26-day search for the Baiji, or the Yangtze dolphin, found no dolphins. The Baiji is highly threatened by pollution, overfishing, and obstructions like dams.


How many whales are enough?

(11/30/2006) Iceland's decision to resume hunting endangered fin whales raises an important question: how many whales are enough to sustain a population? While conservionists will debate over the actual number using varying models and population studies, a new paper published in the journal Bioscience attempts to establish a new system for setting population targets for threatened species.


Whales share human brain cells

(11/27/2006) Whales share brain cells with humans according to a new study published online November 27, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists. The research suggests that "certain cetaceans and hominids may have evolved side by side."


Grey whales missing from traditional feeding grounds

(10/23/2006) Researchers found few grey whales in their traditional feeding grounds in the North Pacific last summer according to a scientist at the University of Bath. Dr. William Megill, a professor of mechanical engineering with special interest in biomimetics at the University of Bath, said that the absence of the 17,000 grey whales from traditional summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific could be cause for concern, despite the species' recent removal from the endangered species list.


Dolphin Slaughter Resumes in Japan

(09/21/2006) As the annual dolphin drive hunts begin in the Japanese villages of Taiji and Futo, a consortium of scientists and zoo and aquarium professionals has launched a campaign to end the practices through public awareness and by appealing to the government of Japan to put an end to the hunts.


Ancient blue whale was a shark killer

(08/22/2006) A 25-million-year-old whale fossil from southeastern Australia suggests a curious origin for baleen whales. Presented at the at the Melbourne Museum last week, the fossil shows that earliest baleen whales were small, toothed and highly predatory creatures with enormous eyes -- virtually the opposite of the baleen whales we know today. These, like the blue whale and the humpback are gentle, toothless giants that feed on krill and other tiny organism.


Norwegian killer whales most toxic mammals in Arctic

(12/12/2005) Initial scientific results show Norwegian killer whales are the most toxic mammals in the Arctic, says WWF, the global conservation organization. Previous research awarded this dubious honour to the polar bear, but a new study shows that killer whales have even higher levels of PCBs, pesticides and a brominated flame retardant.


Underwater sound pollution threat to marine life says new report

(11/21/2005) New evidence shows that the rising level of intense underwater sound produced by oil and gas exploration, military sonar and other manmade sources poses a significant long-term threat to whales, dolphins, fish and other marine species, according to a report published today by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


Whale uses fish as bait to catch seagulls then shares strategy with fellow orcas

(09/07/2005) An enterprising young killer whale at Marineland has figured out how to use fish as bait to catch seagulls -- and shared his strategy with his fellow whales.


Humpback whale tracked migrating between ocean basins

(08/18/2005) For the first time ever, a genetic study has followed a single humpback whale from one ocean basin to another, adding to traditional notions of the migratory patterns of these majestic marine mammals in the process, according to researchers from the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS), the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), and New York University.



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