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Seven right whales found dead in ‘devastating’ blow to endangered animal

Carcasses found off Canada in recent weeks in what may be biggest single die-off of one of world’s most endangered whale species, expert says

Researchers examine a dead North Atlantic right whale along the Gulf of St Lawrence in Canada.
 Researchers examine a dead North Atlantic right whale along the Gulf of St Lawrence in Canada. Photograph: HO/AP

 

Seven North Atlantic right whales have been found floating lifelessly in the Gulf of St Lawrence, off Canada, in recent weeks, in what is being described as a “catastrophic” blow to one of the world’s most endangered whales.

The first whale carcass was reported in early June. Within a month, another six reports came in, leaving marine biologists in the region reeling.

“It’s devastating,” said Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society, a charitable organisation dedicated to marine mammal conservation in the region. “This is, I think, the largest die-off they’ve ever had for this particularly species, at once.”

The global population of North Atlantic right whales – which live along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the US and can reach up to 16 metres in length – is thought to be around 525, meaning that more than 1% of the population has died in the past month. “So it is catastrophic in terms of potential impact to this population.”

‘This is, I think, the largest die-off they’ve ever had for this particularly species, at once,’ says an expert.
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 ‘This is, I think, the largest die-off they’ve ever had for this particularly species, at once,’ says an expert. Photograph: Marine Animal Response Society

At least two of the whales were female, with one of them known to be entering its reproductive years. “You’re talking anywhere from five to 10 babies in their lifetime. And now they won’t happen. It’s heartbreaking,” said Wimmer.

With no obvious causes for the deaths, a team including federal scientists, pathologists and veterinarians have been racing against time to figure out what is happening. Last week they carried out necropsies on three of the whales, hoping to find clues before the carcasses decompose.

While their findings are still preliminary, they found signs of severe blunt trauma and bruising on two of the whales, suggesting collision with a vessel, while the third had been tangled in fishing gear for weeks.

The findings still don’t explain why the deaths have seemingly occurred within such a short time frame, said Wimmer, though “regardless, there are some aspects of the last stages of their life that were impacted by human activities in that area.” As scientists move into the laboratory to carry out further analyses, some have speculated that the deaths may have been caused by toxic algae or something the whales ate.

A team including federal scientists, pathologists and veterinarians have been racing against time to figure out the cause of the deaths.
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 A team including federal scientists, pathologists and veterinarians have been racing against time to figure out the cause of the deaths. Photograph: Marine Animal Response Society

The North Atlantic right whale has struggled since being nearly hunted to extinction by whalers in the late 18th century. In recent years, researchers have noticed the whales moving into the Gulf of St Lawrence in large numbers, leading to increased interactions with humans.

Earlier this week, reports came in of a right whale in the area that was tangled in fishing gear. Some six hours after it was first spotted, scientists were able to cut the whale free of a fishing line in its mouth.

The entanglement, along with the unprecedented number of deaths, may suggest that fishing gear needs to be set out differently or that vessels need to start moving more slowly through the region, said Wimmer. “Right now there’s still a lot of questions,” she added. “There’s probably more questions than there are answers.”

 “Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd”.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/08/right-whales-dead-canada-endangered-species?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other 

@ashifa_k Saturday 8 July 2017 Last modified on Saturday 8 July 2017 

See for Gold Coast Australian context http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-17/whale-washes-up-in-moreton-bay-with-propeller-cuts-to-head/5676732

Gold Coast Surfing Champ Mick Fanning poses as a rhino poacher for a antipoaching dog practice in South Africa

Former surfing World Champion Mick Fanning is doing his bit for rhinos while he is in South Africa for the J-Bay open.

Check out this link to see him volunteer for to help the anti-poaching dogs practice for the real thing.

http://www.theinertia.com/surf/watch-mick-fanning-get-attacked-by-an-anti-poaching-dog-in-south-africa/

He’s been on safari with a group called WildArk, a conservation organization that he’s an ambassador for.

 

 

Dawie Groenewald walks again after Interpol arrests alleged fake hunt organiser and alleged illegal supplier of rhino horn to Vietnam

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Seven years since he was arrested on nearly 2000 charges Dawie Groenewald stands at the Pretoria High Court during his postponement hearing along with the other co-accused. Photo with permission Susan Scott and STROOP

INTERPOL ARRESTS DAWIE GROENEWALD —
Following Interpol’s arrest of alleged rhino poaching syndicate leader Dawie Groenewald in South Africa, exactly a week after Groenewald’s South Africa’s case was postponed to 2018, Groenewald was granted bail and released from police custody.

At Groenewald’s  appearance in court in Polokwane Interpol unsuccessfully opposed his bail application. The case was postponed until January 29th, 2018.

The US indictment, issued in 2014, charges Dawie and Janneman Groenewald, and their company Valinor Trading CC (Out of Africa Adventurous Safaris) with conspiracy, Lacey Act violations, mail fraud, money laundering and structuring bank deposits to avoid reporting requirements, News 24 reported.
Dawie, his wife Sariette, and nine others, including two vets and professional hunters, had been arrested on World Rhino Day, September 2010, on 1872 charges, but have managed to stave off prosecution for seven years since their arrest.

Authorities had excavated the carcasses of 26 rhinos they alleged were illegally hunted and dehorned without permits.

The spokesperson for the South Africa’s organised crime police, the Hawks, Brigadier Mulaudzi said Interpol’s extradition charges related to the state’s case.

“They [Interpol] are extremely confident. The criminal court case here will still continue, but it will depend on the Department of Justice, Interpol and the NPA to establish which cases they will prioritise,” Mulaudzi said.

The illegal demand for rhino horn in Vietnam and China has put pressure on South Africa’s courts and enforcement in a country that is struggling with corruption, poverty, violent crimes and robberies.

It has also put pressure on Vietnam’s enforcement agencies amid calls from NGOs for government action and international criticism of shortfalls in Vietnam’s enforcement of anti illegal wildlife trade laws that are in place.

The Lacey Act is the US’ oldest criminal statute addressing illegal poaching and wildlife trafficking, making it a crime to sell animal hunts conducted in violation of state, federal, tribal and foreign law.
Details of the charges laid in 2010 are: Nine American hunters paid up to $15 000 (R650 000) per animal for a total of 11 hunts sold at hunting conventions and gun shows in the United States between 2005 and 2010.

The hunters were tricked by the Groenewalds into believing they were shooting legally at “problem” rhino. The Groenewalds obtained no hunting permits from the South African or local government, and the hunters never received the horn “trophies”, the indictment said.

For more on Simon Bloch‘s breaking story:

www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/interpol-arrests-two-limpopo-brothers-for-fraud-money-laundering-20170622

 

16 years jail including one year for animal cruelty

New Vietnam laws could spell tougher penalties for illegal wildlife trade

The Vietnamese National Assembly has raised some hopes in the conservation community by approving the long awaited 2015 Penal Code which will come into force on 1st January 2018.

It hasn’t been made public but previous drafts suggest the June 20 approval will mean  tougher laws for anyone killing or trafficking endangered wildlife.

Traffic’s Head of Vietnam Office Madelon Willemsen said it may improve enforcement efforts on illegal wildlife trafficking in Vietnam.

“This is potentially a very positive step for Viet Nam as it should provide the country’s law enforcement agencies with a stronger constitution to investigate and penalize wildlife criminals appropriately.

“The new Code should provide a platform for cracking down on the criminal networks using Viet Nam as a source, transit and supply country in their wildlife trafficking activities.”

It’s not what you think

Source: It’s not what you think

Sea Shepherd says figures appalling in shark net trial. NSW DPI report that 50 marine animals dead in a month from trial at 5 Ballina beaches.

 

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Dead White Spotted Eagle Ray or possibly Ocellated Ray in Lighthouse Beach shark net trial on March 3. Photo

The NSW North Coast Shark Meshing Trial Report for the last month has been released with the NSW government saying the data is getting analysed.

But Sea Shepherd says the results are disastrous and are a concern for marine life and humpback whales on their way up the coast soon.

The report covered the period: 8 April – 7 May 2017 of the six month trial that will finish in June at Lighthouse Beach (Ballina), Sharpes Beach (Ballina), Shelly Beach (Ballina), Seven Mile Beach (Lennox Head) and Evans Head Beach.

The report says, “During the fifth month of the NSW north coast meshing trial, nets were deployed for totals of 22–30 days at five beaches and each checked between 20 and 47 times (Table 1). The contractors are required to check the mesh nets twice a day, but if the weather or bar conditions prevent safe access, then fewer checks are made.”

Over the last 5 months the DPI has collected monthly data.

The data from the last month shows that no target sharks were caught in any of the five nets but 50 other marine animals died.

Sea Shepherd Australia coordinator Jonathan Clark says the results of the trial so far were disastrous for marine species.

“Sea Shepherd’s Apex Harmony, are taking a cautious approach regards the announcement that the nets of the North Coast Shark Net Trial will be removed mid June. The removal date has not changed despite the appalling figures shown in the DPI’s own publicly released data and obvious disastrous environmental impacts,” Mr Clark says

“50 marine animals died in the five trial nets between 8th April and 7th May. That number has grown from an average of 20 killed in each of the previous four months.

“250 marine animals have been entangled so far with more than half being killed. The animals killed have included dolphins, turtles, rays and harmless and endangered sharks.

A NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair press release says the data shows that monthly more target sharks were caught using SMART drumlines than nets.

The May 9 press release outlines the five month cumulative figures from the North Coast Net Trial.

” Six target sharks caught (two White, one Bull, three Tiger sharks); three deceased, three alive. A total of 244 non-target animals were caught in the nets; 117 were released alive (48%) and 127 (52%) were found deceased in the nets,” the release says.

“SMART Drumline – Five month cumulative figures  29 target sharks (24 White, 3 Tiger and 2 Bull sharks); one White shark deceased (entangled), all others alive.  Two non-target animals (both Greynurse sharks) were caught and both were released alive.”

Mr Blair said by mid-June the five trial nets at Lighthouse Beach (Ballina), Sharpes Beach (Ballina), Shelly Beach (Ballina), Seven Mile Beach (Lennox Head) and Evans Head Beach   will have been in the water for six months.

“The data from the trial will now be analysed by DPI shark scientists to assess the effectiveness of the nets,” Mr Blair said.

“We will also continue to consult with the local community to gauge their views on the outcomes of the trial.

“When the nets are removed, we will increase the number of SMART drumlines to 35 (currently 25) – this will also be the most effective measure as the whale migration period begins on the North Coast.”

Sea Shepherd Australia coordinator Jonathan Clark is pushing for non-lethal methods to make the beaches safer.

 

“There is consolation as long as the nets ultimately stay out and the government returns to its original strong message, through the allocation of a $16M fund, for the development, trial and use of non-lethal mitigation methods.”

Clark says nets become a bigger issue once the humpback whale migration starts.

“It is of deep concern that the nets will remain in while the numbers of deaths they inflict only increases and the humpback whales begin to pass the area on their migration. Also of concern is the proposal to increase the number of drum lines deployed along this beautiful coastline.”

He says the Sea Shepherd crew filmed a live ray in the shark nets.

“We were not close enough to it to even know it was alive. We realised it was alive when we watched the contractor pull up the net. It moved as soon as it surfaced and the contractor roughly cut it from the net to release it.”

He says its illegal to interfere with the nets.

“We can’t rescue. In Ballina $22000 fine for interfering.”

Mr Clark says Sea Shepherd’s cross checking of the data that the DPI has released publicly with the data that Sea Shepherd collected by going out to the nets has raised some questions of accuracy.

“The decomposed ray demonstrates that the nets are not checked twice a day. The DPI data backs that up. The DPI data only shows number of checks across a month so they are an average,” Mr Clark says.
“The day we found the two rays at Lighthouse net, one dead and one alive, does not much up with their publicly released data. I cannot see on their data sets anything that matches that day.”
Image-2.png

Decomposed ray photographed by Sea Shepherd in the shark net at Sharpes Beach 23 April. Clark says the decomposition shows that the nets aren’t being checked regularly.

A table in the April/May report published at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/sharks/management/shark-net-trial/report-8-apr-7-may-2017 gives the figures for each beach in the trial:

The Beach
-The first number after the heading is the number of days net deployed
-The second number is the number of times the net checked between April 8, 2017 and May 7, 2017

Seven Mile, Lennox Head
29
29
Sharpes, Ballina
28
27
Shelly, Ballina
22
20
Lighthouse, Ballina
23
20
Main, Evans Head
30
47

The report summarises the findings. “During the fifth month, a total of 65 individuals from 13 species were caught in the mesh nets,” the report says.
“15 animals (23%) were released alive, 50 animals (77%) were deceased (tissue samples were retained for analyses) (Table 2), No target sharks (White, Tiger or Bull sharks) were caught,” the report says.

Figures below show the numbers of each species caught in the mesh nets that were alive and released, or dead at each beach.

Seven Mile, Lennox Head
Common Blacktip Shark
0 alive
1 dead

Dusky Whaler
1
0

Great Hammerhead Shark
0
1

Mackerel tuna
0
3

Pygmy Devilray
1
5

Whitespotted Guitarfish
1
1

Unidentified tuna
0
1

Sharpes, Ballina
Australian Cownose Ray
1
0

Common Blacktip Shark
0
3

Great Hammerhead Shark
0
1

Greynurse Shark
0
1

Manta Ray
1
0

Pygmy Devilray
2
2

Whitespotted Eagle Ray
1
2

Shelly, Ballina
Common Blacktip Shark
0
1

Green Turtle
0
1

Whitespotted Guitarfish
0
1

Lighthouse, Ballina
Australian Cownose Ray
1
0

Mulloway
0
3

Pygmy Devilray
1
2

Whitespotted Eagle Ray
1
2

Main, Evans Head
Common Blacktip Shark
0
1

Great Hammerhead Shark
0
2

Pygmy Devilray
4
16

The reports shows that 15 marine animals were found alive and 50 marine animals found dead in a month from shark net trial at 5 Ballina beaches.

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Black tip reef shark in Bilinga Beach GC shark net April 25. Credit to Sea Shepherd. Photo taken by Crystal Dombrow

 

Death of a favourite author

pirsig-with-chris-1968_custom-1dfd21fa4918cd9508463228a8dd69566ee06eb0-s800-c85Many authors have influenced my life. Hemingway, Ustinov, Kerouac, Burroughs, Twain, Cassady, Melville, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, McGahan, Stevenson, Wilder, Kesey, Miller, Rhinehart, Fowles, Tolkien, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. All male nearly all dead. I read them in bed, on trains, in waiting rooms… Nowhere else except on the beach, the cafe. I love reading them. I treat them like music. I never get bored of them. Some of them. Hemingway and Steinbeck, Cassady and Kerouac are like that. The plot and finding out what happens doesn’t matter after the first read. I dog ear them,  I make notes in the margins and underline sentences. I keep a dictionary beside my bed. I read them for the same reason I eat. To grow and be strong. Aspiration and inspiration.

Robert Pirsig died yesterday. 88 – long illness. In Maine. I had his book. Still have maybe. Under a house. I sold a lot of books before I moved overseas to work. I wouldn’t couldn’t have sold Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I didn’t sell books that good and it was too beat up. No cover. I lost that in Thailand. Among other things. It had SYDNEY written in Nikko pen big capitals on the blank page before page 1. A sign to drivers. 1987. Hitchhiking across the Nullarbor. Six months after I came back from Thailand. Damaged and bulletproof. Zen in hand, walking down the highway. Gee this story could go on for a while if I had time.

I read the book in Thailand along with On the Road first. It was hard going. A father and son. A motorbike. A question of sanity. Too many miles to think in silence and distort reality when a simple validation of sanity would have left no reason for Pirsig to write the book. I read it in bamboo bungalows eating banana cake and in rooms in hotels that were whorehouses for Muslims coming across the Malaysian border. So many questions. A thesis of technology and quality. It echoed my thinking as I wondered often what was I doing, what I was doing. I was what. What.

“I can imitate the father he’s supposed to have, but subconsciously, at the Quality level, he sees through it and knows his real father isn’t here. In all this Chautauqua talk there’s been more than a touch of hypocrisy. Advice is given again and again to eliminate subject-object duality, when the biggest duality of all, the duality between me and him, remains unfaced. A mind divided against itself.”

Vale Robert Pirsig. I read you in my obscurity. I found myself writing and motorbikes. Thankyou. I love the highway and I thank you for describing the time the highway gave you. Zen was a brave journey.

 

4zzz documentary

Pre 1950s white rhinos thought extinct: Player

Player’s Washington Post obituary