Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A sea anemone is a small sac, attached to the bottom by an adhesive foot, with a column shaped body ending in an oral disc. The mouth is in the middle of the oral disc, surrounded by tentacles armed with many cnidocytes, which are cells that function as a defense and as a means to capture prey. Cnidocytes contain cnidae, capsule-like organelles capable of everting, giving phylum Cnidaria its name. The cnidae that sting are called nematocysts. Each nematocyst contains a small vesicle filled with toxins—actinoporins—an inner filament and an external sensory hair. When the hair is touched, it mechanically triggers the cell explosion, a harpoon-like structure which attaches to organisms that trigger it, and injects a dose of poison in the flesh of the aggressor or prey. This gives the anemone its characteristic sticky feeling.

Killing Humpback Whales


Gales, N.J., Clapham, P.J. and Baker, C.S. A case for killing humpback whales?

Abstract: During the austral summer of 2007/08, hunting of Southern Hemisphere humpback whales will recommence after almost half a century of protection. The stated rationale for this hunt, by the Government of Japan, is to gather important scientific information for use in management. If the scientific need was defensible, and the proponents had accommodated reasonable conservation concerns, then criticisms of the hunt would be limited to philosophical issues. This is not the case. The program’s research objectives are unlikely to be achieved by lethal methods and do not address the principal research needs for SH humpback whales identified by the International Whaling Commission.

The complete pdf document can be downloaded free at the wesbite.


Japanese whalers hunt humpbacks

Environmentalists have clashed with the crew of Nisshin Maru before
A Japanese whaling fleet has set sail aiming to harpoon humpback whales for the first time in decades. The fleet is conducting its largest hunt in the South Pacific - it has instructions to kill up to 1,000 whales, including 50 humpbacks. The humpback hunt is the first since a mid-1960s global ban and has drawn strong protests from environmentalists. Commercial whaling was stopped in 1986 but Japan is permitted whaling in the name of scientific research. Four whaling ships, including the lead craft Nisshin Maru, set off from the southern port of Shimonoseki on Sunday. The 239-man mission plans to kill more than 900 minke whales as well as fin whales and humpbacks, in a South Pacific whale hunt that will run until mid-April. The 8,000-metric ton Nisshin Maru was crippled by a fire on a whaling mission in the Antarctic in March. One crew member was killed. A Greenpeace campaign ship will be following the Japanese fleet.

Sensitive mammals

Tokyo's plan to target the humpback - which was hunted to near extinction four decades ago - has drawn condemnation from environmentalists. "Humpbacks are very sensitive and live in close-knit pods so even one death can be extremely damaging," Greenpeace spokesman Junichi Sato said. Japanese fisheries officials insist both humpback and fin populations are back to sustainable levels. "Humpback whales in our research area are rapidly recovering," said fisheries spokesman Hideki Moronuki. "Taking 50 humpbacks from a population of tens of thousands will have no significant impact whatsoever." Mr Moronuki said killing whales allowed marine biologists to study their internal organs. Meat from Japan's scientific catch is sold commercially but Japanese officials deny that the mission plans to make a profit. Tokyo argues that whaling is an ancient Japanese tradition, and has pushed unsuccessfully at the International Whaling Commission to reverse the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling. Environmentalists say Japan's research programme is a pretext for keeping the whaling industry alive.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Save Wild BC Salmon

salmon fry

The rich waters of the British Columbia coast are home to recently returned humpback whales and vast shoals of sardines. Wild salmon feed bears, whales, eagles and forests that draw wilderness tourism into BC. Wild salmon also support commercial and tidal recreational fishing, which combined with, wilderness tourism, means wild salmon annually lure over $1.6 billion to BC, as compared with $600 million earned by farm fish. Why isn’t your government listening to the businesses that depend on wild salmon?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

New J pod Calf - J43

J43 baby photo from NOAA Fisheries (by Brad Hanson and Candi Emmons taken Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007)

J43 was born this month to Samish/J14 (b.1974). This is the fifth calf for Samish one of the southern resident endangered killer whales. Samish's first born only survived four years which is common because built up environmental toxins are offloaded while nursing and new mothers can have some difficulty relative to older experienced female matriarchs. J43's siblings are big brother Riptide/J30 b.1995, Hy'shqa/J37 b.2001, and Suttels/J40 b.2004.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Robson Bight oil spill update


On October 19th, two months after the August 20th oil spill in Robson Bight, Canada's federal & provincial governments agreed to conduct an underwater investigation of the spill site, and to share the costs involved. This certainly came as good news, though the timing was odd in that the announcement came just hours after NGOs had released details of their plan to the media. Had the NGOs proceeded, the first ("side scan") phase of the investigation would have already been accomplished, and a week hence we could have had the answers we've been seeking. As things now stand, the investigation has been delayed, but given a suitable weather window, it should happen soon. If weather conditions permit, we should know the actual situation on the bottom of Robson Bight within a few weeks.

Here is a link to a more complete story we posted on our OrcaLab web site yesterday:

In case it's useful, we're also attaching our update as a Word file. Please feel free to do anything you wish with it.

As we say at the end of the story, our fingers are crossed!

As ever, this comes with our warmest wishes to you all, and our heartfelt THANKS for caring, and helping.

Paul & Helena