Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Unusual whale strandings prompt urgent call

Unusual whale strandings prompt urgent call for autopsies

During the height of Kiwi Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations there have been several whale strandings and unusual sightings. Unusual because: these incidents involve multiple species – baleen and toothed. Because Sperm whales and several species of Beaked whales have been close inshore when they generally live their whole lives in waters over a kilometer deep.

Alarm bells ring as this coincides with the largest activity of intensive seismic surveying ever seen in New Zealand waters occurring on both sides of the Cook Strait right now.

Sea Shepherd requests autopsies be undertaken before DOC buries these whales and gets rid of potential evidence. Iwi have full rights to demand necropsies in order to establish cause of death and gather important scientific conclusions. We offer them all our support.

Both oil exploration companies need to be held accountable for funding the necropsies on the Sperm whale stranding in Nelson, and the extremely rare fresh Shepherd’s Beaked whale stranding off Timaru, as per governmental agreements and best practice.

“It shouldn’t be up to scientists, iwi, NGOs and the people of New Zealand to have to kick up a stink to ensure this happens. It should be a given,” says Michael Lawry, Sea Shepherd NZ Director.

Amazon Warrior, the largest seismic testing ship in the world, has been blasting off the East Coast since November 13, 2016.

PGS is currently seismic surveying in the South Taranaki Bight - a recovering breeding and feeding ground for Blue whales - have stated they will “consider covering the cost of necropsies in the event of a stranding for a seismic operation”. PGS readily admits they are a risk to marine mammals.



Professor Liz Slooten from Otago University says, ”Even if it’s not the seismic blasting causing these whales to strand, given the unusual species observed, accusations towards the oil exploration companies will likely escalate. They need to get on board, assist DOC and fund the research. It’s outrageous these systems aren’t already in place.”

“Whales are taonga, our treasures. A stranding is a tohu, a sign. We all love whales. It’s important to utilise available science to know what caused their death, so we can prevent more. We owe them this much.” says Gemma McGrath, Independent Consultant and former WhaleWatch Kaikoura Senior Guide. “Sperm whale strandings also need to be co-ordinated fully to see how they match with the Kaikoura photo-ID catalogue”.

Everyone agrees: Systems should already be in place to adequately respond to stranding events possibly linked to seismic operations. Regional teams capable of carrying out autopsies need to be set up, trained and ready to respond to future strandings. Burying the evidence is simply not acceptable. Let this be the last whale to go uninvestigated.

Strandings
• Sperm whale stranded Nelson 30th December. Young fully grown male. No necropsy planned however local Iwi have the rights to request one urgently.
• Shepherd's Beaked whale stranded Caroline Bay 27th December. No necropsy performed however local Iwi have the rights to request one.
• Pygmy Blue whale, 14 metres, 28th December, found washed up on a South Taranaki beach. It appears to have died several weeks before from unknown causes.


Unusual sightings
• Arnoux Beaked whales, Otago Peninsula - 24 December
• Tasman Bay - 29 December. A group of what is now believed to be a Sperm whale(s) and possibly more Beaked whales (originally misidentified as Southern Rights or Humpbacks) were observed before the single stranding occurred.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Tax Bill Passes, Drops: “An End To Unnecessary Secondary Tax”

“The changes mean Inland Revenue will more closely monitor the tax paid by wage and salary earners through the year. If it appears the worker is being over taxed, Inland Revenue will suggest a more suitable PAYE tax code tailored to that worker.” More>>

ALSO:

Ethiopian Airline Crash: Boeing 737 Max Aircraft Operations Temporarily Suspended

New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority has suspended the operation of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to or from New Zealand. Currently this affects only one operator, Fiji Airways. There are no other airlines that fly this aircraft type to New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Sorting Out DNA: Crime-Busting Software Wins Top Science Prize

Software developed in New Zealand that has contributed to identifying suspects in tens of thousands of criminal cases around the world has won the 2018 Prime Minister’s $500,000 Science Prize. More>>

ALSO:

In The High Court: IRD Wins Tax Avoidance Case

Inland Revenue has won a High Court case against Eric Watson’s Cullen Group over a nearly $52 million tax debt. More>>

ALSO:

Insurers Withdraw From Market: Plea For EQC Rethink

A consumer watchdog wants the government to rethink the Earthquake Commission (EQC) as more people are pushed out of getting property and contents insurance. More>>

ALSO:

Women's Day: New Zealand Rated Third Best In OECD For Working Women

New Zealand has been rated among the top countries in the world for working women. The Women in Work Index rated New Zealand third in the OECD and it was the only country outside Europe to make the top 10. More>>

ALSO: