Blog post by Tina Winterlik © 2011
Well I'm balling like a baby after this one. So BEAUTIFUL. What an AMAZING STORY. Check it out for yourself.
Michael Fishbach narrates his encounter with a humpback whale entangled in a fishing net. Gershon Cohen and he have founded The Great Whale Conservancy to help and protect whales. Visit their website http://www.eii.org/gwc/, facebook page, and join them in helping to save these magnificent beings
The Great Whale Conservancy (GWC) Blue Whale Protection Program
Our GoalTo protect blue whales along the California coast from ship-strike caused injuries and death.
The FactsThe blue whale is the largest animal species to have ever inhabited the Earth. The global population prior to human predation has been estimated at 350,000 individuals. Today that number is ~10,000. Blue whales inhabit every ocean but one of the largest subpopulations is the Northeast Pacific group. These whales transit four favored areas: the California Bight (south of Point Conception,) the west coast of Baja California, the Sea of Cortez, and the Costa Rica Dome. By far the largest number of blue whales congregates in the California Bight between June and October where food availability is very high. This area is also one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, with over 6000 cargo ships/year transiting the Santa Barbara Channel to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The ProblemBlue whales are most vulnerable to strikes by cargo ships, tankers, cruise ships, and other large vessels at night while feeding on krill, transiting, or resting. During the day krill descend hundreds of feet into the water column, but every evening the whale’s photosensitive prey re-concentrate near the surface. The whales follow the krill back to the dark surface waters, and may not react quickly enough to avoid the large ships. A ship collision usually ends in injury or death for these giants of the seas. The documented number of blue whales killed by ships along the coast of California has been as high as 5 whales in a year. The actual number of mortalities is unknown and is suspected to be many times higher because blue whales are negatively buoyant – they sink when they die. The total number of ship-strike kills represents a survival threat to this subgroup and the worldwide population.
The SolutionDespite their size, California’s blue whales are for the most part unseen, which to a great degree is why they remain unprotected. The GWC will utilize media-generating tools such as web-based videos and public presentations and actions involving life-size blue whale floats to inform the public, focus attention on state and federal agencies and ship owners, and force a strengthening of the rules and operational policies for vessels transiting critical blue whale habitat. We will not turn the corner on this issue until the general public becomes aware of the problem and begins to “speak for the whales.” We must succeed – it would truly be a tragedy to lose this magnificent species forever.
It took decades to institute strong protections, including adjusted shipping lanes, ship speeds, and the establishment of protected areas for North Atlantic right whales, despite 60 years of “protected status” and the knowledge that 1/3 of the known mortalities every year resulted from ship strikes. The survival of the right whale population still hangs by a thread. We can’t afford to negotiate for decades on protecting blue whales in the Pacific.
The Great Whale Conservancy (GWC) is a joint program of two premier projects of the Earth Island Institute: the International Marine Mammal Project and the Campaign to Safeguard America’s Waters. To help, please contact Michael Fishbach at IMMP (828) 675-9387, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Gershon Cohen Ph.D. at CSAW (907) 766-3005, email@example.com.