On Wednesday, August 28th, I departed from the airport in Toronto in Canada and initiated a journey that ultimately would transport me 6000 miles south to Argentina. Fifteen hours later, I arrived in sunny Buenos Aires, referred to by some as the Paris of South America. Read More
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As the Right Whale team arrives in Patagonia for our 43rd field season we wanted to share with you a unique opportunity to learn more about Península Valdés – the people, the setting and the whales. The Old Man and the Whale is a small treasure of a book that will transport you to our whale camp, written by a man who knows it well. John Atkinson has been traveling to Patagonia from Canada every year for over 21 years, for the sole purpose of hanging out of an airplane to take aerial photos of the whales. He has immersed himself in the culture, so it only made sense for him as a full-time writer to write a story about a place he loves. Read More
I was born and raised in Córdoba, in central Argentina, several hundred kilometers away from the sea. Although I was only six years old, I vividly remember the first time I saw the ocean. It was on a summer vacation with my family in the coast of Uruguay, close to the Brazilian border. We camped for two weeks in a beautiful national park with long beaches in the western South Atlantic. Read More
Right whales are the most endangered of great whales. When Dr. Roger Payne started gathering data on the Southern Right whale in Peninsula Valdez, Argentina in 1970 he was concerned that this species might be lost forever and so Ocean Alliance’s Southern Right Whale Program began.
For centuries, right whales were hunted mercilessly. Early whalers called them “the right whales to kill” because they are slow, have a thick blubber layer that produces abundant oil, and float when dead. Southern right whales were protected internationally in 1935. As whalers stopped hunting right whales, the populations in the southern hemisphere have recovered substantially, although they are still below their pre-whaling sizes.
Over the last 43 years we have conducted aerial surveys monitoring the right whale populations, our catalog now contains over 3,000 photo-identified individual right whales from Península Valdés, Argentina. Important findings on the biology of right whales were obtained using benign, non-lethal techniques. Among other things, we now know that females reproduce on average once every three years, their mean age at first parturition is 9 years, the annual rate of population increase is 5.1%, juveniles use breeding grounds to socialize with other juveniles and to potentially learn important behaviors, and right whales can shift their distribution along the shorelines of Península Valdés over decades.
The documented growth of the population of southern right whales in Argentina has been regarded for several decades as a sign of hope that recovery can occur in a whale species, but recent mortality events suggest that this population of whales may be less healthy and robust than previously thought. This reinforces the importance of continuing our research and monitoring efforts to help understand the population trends and their causes.
The great whales are important indicators of ocean health because they consume such large quantities of food and occupy home ranges that span thousands of miles. The Patagonian right whale population is recognized as one of the best indicators of the response of baleen whales to climate change in the Southern Ocean because the reproductive histories of so many of its individuals have been recorded continuously for four decades. Continuing the annual aerial surveys of the Patagonian right whale population is essential for understanding the health of this population and its extremely important western South Atlantic ecosystem.
“The (Right Whale) data you (Ocean Alliance) hold would no doubt be the single most valuable source of information on whales and their environment available… there really is nothing else out there quite as good.”
– Steve Reilly, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
The Patagonian Right Whale Program is now a collaborative effort of Ocean Alliance and Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas (ICB), an Argentine nonprofit founded by Roxana Schteinbarg and Diego Taboada, based in Buenos Aires. For more information please visit the the ICB website or the English version.
We look forward to sharing with you our 43rd field season in Argentina in the coming weeks.
This video is a final update from the 2013 campaign onboard the RV Odyssey and features Paul Watson, Dr. Roger Payne and Dr. Iain Kerr. Operation Toxic Gulf is a collaborative campaign between Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Ocean Alliance.
This campaign has focused on Gulf sperm whales because they are at the top of the Gulf’s food chain and, as such, they can act as a bio-indicator of the health of the entire ecosystem. Ocean Alliance, its scientific partners and Sea Shepherd will be able to put any discoveries they make in the Gulf into a global context due to the fact that from 2000 to 2005 the RV Odyssey circumnavigated the globe collecting baseline data on the levels of pollutants and metals in sperm whales.
We hope to return to the Gulf in 2014 so this winter we will be fundraising and working with our scientific partners to analyze the data that we and the Wise Laboratory team have collected in the Gulf over the last four years. Since we are looking at the chronic effects as against the short-term effects of this disaster this analysis will take years.
Your support makes this all possible. Please bookmark our website, like us on Facebook and any financial support helps us move forward with research, education and capital investment. From the crew of Ocean Alliance, we thank you!Read our blog posts from the Gulf of Mexico
60 Minutes Australia keeps the story of the Deepwater Horizon disaster alive in Part 2 of their investigation into the health consequences resulting from the use of dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico for humans and wildlife.
60 Minutes Australia investigates the use of chemical dispersants in the Great Barrier Reef and off the northwest coast of Australia.
This spring I was deeply concerned that Ocean Alliance would not be able to return to the Gulf of Mexico to continue the work Dr. John Wise and I started in 2010 looking at the effects of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on marine mammals. Around that time I was talking with my good friend Alex Cornelissen (Shepherd Global Executive Officer) about another mutual concern and the Gulf came up in discussion. Less than a month later Alex told me that we would be returning to the Gulf with the full support of Sea Shepherd Global and so Operation Toxic Gulf was born. Read More
Here’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to help the whales and own a campaign shirt that is signed by Dr. Roger Payne, Erwin Vermeulen and Hillary Watson of Sea Shepherd and “Whale Wars,” and the Odyssey crew. Help a great cause and get a cool shirt. 2 XL shirts available, each auctioned separately. Place your bid for shirt #2 in the single thread on www.facebook.com/oceanalliance in $5 increments beginning with $25. Auction ends at 8:00 pm EST on Friday August 16th when the winner will be announced. Good luck!!
As the RV Odyssey battles 6 foot seas on its homeward passage to Key West this weekend we’d like to share the very last “Meet The Crew” video for Operation Toxic Gulf…
Introducing Lauren Paap, Ocean Alliance crew member aboard the Odyssey. Over the past year Lauren has been from Gloucester to Tahiti, and Operation Toxic Gulf will be her third campaign. Lauren is a Dutch-American who calls Boston home. Aboard the RV Odyssey she fills the role of marine coordinator, visiting galley cook (when others are too seasick to work) and all-around wonder woman – spending more time up the mast spotting whales than the other crew combined.
RV Odyssey Captain Bob Wallace has been with Ocean Alliance for over 20 years, has circumnavigated the globe three times, and has more whale stories than all the crew combined. In this video he shares the reasons why he does it.
Sunset from the porthole of the RV Odyssey…
Last night the crew on the RV Odyssey sailed out of the port of Pensacola for their final leg of the research phase for Operation Toxic Gulf. They would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to the Gulf Coast states that have hosted them over the summer and especially to the locals in Pensacola who have shown enormous support for their work.
Over the next week they look forward to sharing with you the last couple of Meet The Crew videos and some more photos from their voyage, stand by…
Introducing Hillary Watson, the cook aboard the RV Odyssey for Operation Toxic Gulf. Animal activism runs in the family – Hillary’s uncle is Sea Shepherd founder, Captain Paul Watson.
This Sunday, August 4, Open Books will host the final presentation of the summer from the Operation Toxic Gulf crew, who are currently wrapping up the last leg of their 2013 study. Representatives from Ocean Alliance and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will present photographs and results of their work at the event, which begins at 7 p.m.
On Monday, August 5, the Ocean Alliance-Sea Shepherd team will open their boat, the Research Vessel Odyssey, for tours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Palafox Marina. This will be the third and final time the public will be able to check out the ship. Like Sunday’s presentation, the ship tours are free, but donations are accepted. Read More
You might notice some of our website formatting is askew today. Yesterday, WordPress did a big update and several of the plugins we use whacked things out. Thanks for your patience as we update things.
While you wait patiently for news of season six of “Whale Wars,” the Sea Shepherd crew continue to work for the oceans…
When the Antarctic whaling season ends, this is how a Sea Shepherd spends their summer break. Here’s an update from Erwin Vermeulen, veteran Sea Shepherd crew member, featured in Season 3 of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” and “Viking Shores,” while he spends the summer in the Gulf of Mexico as an Ocean Alliance partner on the RV Odyssey, defending sperm whales from one of their biggest threats: ocean pollution.[sws_divider_padding]