Navigation Links
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); Fundacin Patagonia Natural (FPN); and Fundacin Ecocentro.

Since 2005, a total of 308 dead whales were recorded in the waters around Peninsula Valds, 88 percent of which were calves less than three months old. The deaths constitute 28 percent of live calf sightings during that period.

Examination of samples taken from the beached whale calves ruled out many of the suspected causes, and some have revealed unusually thin blubber layers.

In 2009, the Scientific Committee of the IWC identified the die-off as a management priority, prompting the organization of the workshop.

"Pennsula Valds is one of the most important calving and nursing grounds for the species found throughout the Southern Hemisphere," said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, director of the WCS's Ocean Giants Program and a member of the IWC's Scientific Committee. "By working with the government of Argentina, the Province of Chubut, the IWC, and our diverse team of experts and specialists, we can increase our chances of solving this mystery, the critical next step to ensuring a future for this population of southern right whales."

Workshop participants will consider a number of hypotheses on the cause or causes of calf mortalities such as: biotoxins; disease; environmental factors at their nursing grounds; and potential variations in prey availability at the whales' distant feeding grounds.

The workshop also includes participants from: the Centro Nacional Patagnico; the Zoological Society of London; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); the World Conservation Union (IUCN); the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; the British Antarctic Survey; the Marine Mammal Center; the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission; and other local and international organizations.

Growing up to 55 feet in length and weighing up to 60 tons, the southern right whale is now the most abundant species of right whale in the world. Unlike the North Atlantic and North Pacific right whales (both of which number in the low hundreds), southern rights have managed to rebound from centuries of commercial whaling, with populations growing at approximately seven percent annually since 1970. Of the estimated total population of southern right whales found throughout the entire Southern Hemisphere, around one third use the protected bays of Pennsula Valds as a calving and nursing habitat between the months of June and December.


'/>"/>

Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Environmentalists and fishing community can both win, say experts
2. Experts: Disease-resistant plants enhance profits, client satisfaction
3. Soil experts to discuss terroir, the link between Earth, wine on Nov. 19 in DC
4. What are coral reef services worth? $130,000 to $1.2 million per hectare, per year: experts
5. What are coral reef services worth? $130,000 to $1.2 million / ht / yr: Experts
6. World will miss 2010 target to stem biodiversity loss, experts say
7. Experts gather at McGill University to address food security challenges
8. Amid rising concerns, 600 global biodiversity experts meet in Cape Town Oct. 13-16
9. Energy experts helping Australian households reduce carbon emissions
10. Swine flu experts gather at New York Academy of Sciences May 28
11. Childrens National experts present at Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Experts gather to solve mystery of largest recorded die-off of great whales
(Date:2/22/2017)... 2017 With the biometrics market to ... four technologies that innovative and agile startups must ... in the changing competitive landscape: multifactor authentication (MFA), ... "Companies can no longer afford to ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Industry Analyst at ABI ...
(Date:2/14/2017)... , Feb. 14, 2017  Wake Forest Baptist ... as its new chief executive officer (CEO). Freischlag joins ... John D. McConnell , M.D., who last year ... at the Medical Center, after leading it since 2008. ... full scope of Wake Forest Baptist,s academic health system, ...
(Date:2/9/2017)... , Feb. 9, 2017 The biomass ... analysis of the biomass boiler market globally in terms ... of biomass boilers. The market for biomass boilers has ... type, end-user, application, and country/region. The market based on ... & forest residues, biogas & energy crops, urban residues, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017  SeraCare Life ... global in vitro diagnostics manufacturers and clinical ... industry,s first multiplexed Inherited Cancer reference ... by next-generation sequencing (NGS). The Seraseqâ„¢ Inherited ... with input from industry experts to validate ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... MENLO PARK, Calif., March 23, 2017  BioPharmX ... developing products for the dermatology market, today reported ... Jan. 31, 2017, and will provide an update ... from the year. "We are pleased ... productive year for BioPharmX," said President Anja Krammer. ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... March 23, 2017 Kineta, Inc., a ... novel therapies in immuno-oncology, today announced the discovery ... molecule compounds that activate interferon response factor 3 ... demonstrate immune-mediated tumor regression in a murine colon ... who demonstrated complete tumor regression to initial drug ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... New York , March 23, 2017 ... blood plasma products and derivatives market is fragmented due to the presence ... players, such as Proliant, Thermo Fisher , and Sigma-Aldrich, compete ... leader, these three companies, collectively, held more than 76% of this ... ...
Breaking Biology Technology: