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Experts gather to solve mystery of largest recorded die-off of great whales
Date:3/16/2010

What is causing the largest die-off of great whales ever recorded?

To answer that question, a team of whale and health experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society have joined experts from other organizations at a workshop sponsored by the International Whaling Commission on the Patagonian coast of Argentina to try and solve a perplexing and urgent mystery.

At issue is the long-term conservation of the southern right whale, one of the world's great conservation success stories and the focus of a thriving eco-tourism industry along Argentina's Patagonian coast. Over the past five years, health experts from WCS and biologists working around the famed Pennsula Valdsan important calving ground for right whales and a World Heritage Sitehave recorded an alarming increase in the number of dead right whale calves.

The workshop hosted by the Centro Nacional Patagnico (CONICET)convenes in Puerto Madryn in Chubut Province March 15-18 for the purpose of identifying the possible causes of the die-off and formulating conservation recommendations and future research to better understand them.

"We need to critically examine possible causes for this increase in calf mortality so we can begin to explore possible solutions," said Dr. Marcela Uhart, associate director of WCS's Global Health Program and one of the early founders of the program that discovered the problem. "Finding the cause may require an expansion of monitoring activities to include the vast feeding grounds for the species."

The Wildlife Conservation Society's Global Health Program helped establish the Southern Right Whale Health Monitoring Program, a consortium of NGOs that has recorded an increasing number of whale calf mortalities in Golfo San Jos and Golfo Nuevo, located on the north and south of Pennsula Valds. Other members of the monitoring program include: the Ocean Alliance / Whale Conservation Institute (OA/WCI); Instituto de Conservacin de Ballenas (ICB
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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