This blog was written by Roger Di Silvestro, a field correspondent for Ocean Conservancy.
As Valentine’s Day nears, let’s interrupt our thoughts about love, roses, and chocolates and turn to a closely related subject: whales.
Before there is a Valentine’s Day, there is World Whale Day—a celebration of some of the planet’s most-fascinating, well-loved, and yet elusive creatures, looming large in the popular imagination but still in many ways a scientific mystery. Established on Maui in 1980 to remind people about whales, their lives, and their plight, World Whale Day has been celebrated ever since with parades and various whale-focused events.
In recognition of World Whale Day, here are 6 facts about some of the largest animals that ever lived.
Marine mammals are some of the most beloved animals in our ocean. Whether you have a soft spot for majestic whales, playful seals or adorable sea otters, you have reason to celebrate. Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, an important piece of legislation that protects all marine mammal species found in U.S. waters.
In this video that I shot during the trip, I explain what I saw on my journey, from marine debris that would dwarf a human to breaching humpbacks, fin whales, mothers and their calves. Yes, we have blemished these landscapes, but the incredible wildlife that still thrive there is all the more the reason to continue our work to keep trash out of our waterways and our ocean.
With a few taps and a swipe of the screen, the iPhone never ceases to amaze me. From forecasting the weather and tracking the arrival of the next bus, to choosing sustainable seafood and forming eco-conscious habits (Ocean Conservancy’s newly launched app Rippl is a must-have!), the amount of accessible and accurate information provided by the small hand-held device seems endless. However, we land-dwellers aren’t the only ones benefiting from hand-held technology – even the North Atlantic Right Whale can reap the benefits from this era of insta-information.
Sparked by an increasing concern over the number of whale deaths within Boston Harbor’s shipping lanes, port authorities, scientists, the shipping industry, and federal agencies have come together over the past five years seeking solutions that support both commerce and marine wildlife. A suite of tools resulted from this collaboration, designed to help mariners protect North Atlantic Right Whales easily. Simple solutions derived from scientific observation and data collection, including the rerouting of shipping lanes to avoid prime feeding grounds and the recent development of the WhaleAlert app, have caused incredible improvement in whale mortality rates within the harbor.
Did you know bowhead whales can boast some surprising statistics?
their blubber is more than a foot thick, and
their baleen—plates in the mouth that filter prey from water—can grow 15 feet long.
But one of their most eye-opening attributes is their longevity. Chemical analysis on samples from whale eyeballs the size of billiard balls revealed ages up to an estimated 211 years. Accounting for a margin of error of about 16 percent, the oldest bowhead studied could have been up to 245 years old—no other mammal is known to have lived as long.
More than 13,000 bowheads swim off Alaska’s coast, but threats are growing. Oil and gas exploration will impact bowhead habitat and increases the stresses whales face. Continue reading »