The Right Whale Program Research Update from the Field in Patagonia
The research season with the southern right whales at Península Valdés is progressing with good news. John Atkinson and I completed the 44th annual right whale photo-identification survey with a record number of whales seen: 757, most of which were mothers with their newborn calves. The first day we completed the survey of the northern bay, Golfo San José, and the second day we did Golfo Nuevo, the southern bay. This year there is a suprisingly large difference in the number of whales in each gulf, with nearly three times more whales in Golfo Nuevo than in San José. Read More
Woodstock was a watershed moment; it identified who made the music that changed the world. Those at the People’s Climate March will play the tunes that change the world.
Lisa and I came to New York for three events: the projection of images on the United Nations buildings; the 310,000 person People’s Climate March; and a Multifaith Service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
All three were inspirational—the images on the UN buildings were breathtaking, though the police shut down projection of images that moved by OPS (Ocean Protection Society) founder Louie Psihoyos because cars on FDR drive were slowing down to look at them causing a traffic tie-up.
The March itself was moving beyond description—moving in a way I have not ever felt more deeply, and the Multifaith service was the grandest surprise. We sat in the Nave of the Cathedral beneath two massive sculptures of the Phoenix created out of discarded wastes, wrapped in tiny lights and looking like the Milky Way. The ceremony was opened by Chief Arvol Looking Horse (19th generation keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle) and one of the leaders of the march. Among his remarks was this comment summing up the days’ event:
We heard from Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Al Gore, writer Terry Tempest Williams, Vandana Shiva (Nobel Prize winning founder of seed banks in India), plus 15 other speakers, all of whom, as they placed a stone on an altar in the center of the transcept, made a vow as to what they will do from now on for the earth (as did the entire congregation as the vast nave resonated with music by Paul Winter and others).
The most inspiring speaker for me was a Greenlander: Eskimo-Kalaallit Elder, Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Founder of IceWisdom. He said that he was born and had lived his whole 77 years by the Big Ice, and that when he was a child it was 5 kilometers thick and is dwindling FAST. He ended with an invocation to his ancestors which was riveting—his voice has clearly been shaped by a life spent in the embrace of Nature, wrapped in it, worshipping it, loving it, dreading it, revering it, thanking it. His message was: It is too late. We have failed in our response—and unless we melt the ice in the heart of Man things will not change.
As I write this, the action called Flood Wall Street is beginning—a dramatic acting-out of the harsh reality that when you put all power into the hands of the hyper-rich you close the doors to the courtroom, and open the doors to the street.
Ocean Alliance has joined NGO’s from around the world in asking for protections for the vaquita porpoise, facing imminent extinction in Mexico:
NGO Statement on Vaquita at the 65th Meeting of the International Whaling Commission
The below signed NGOs express their deep concern regarding the critically endangered vaquita.
The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) could be extinct by 2018 unless all gillnets are eliminated from its range and the illegal fishery and trade of totoaba are ended. The vaquita has the most limited geographic range of any marine cetacean (whale, dolphin or porpoise); the entire species inhabits the northernmost Gulf of California. It is the smallest – and the most endangered – cetacean species in the world. Read More
Operation Toxic Gulf crewmember Jessica Guertin spent some time talking to RV Odyssey captain Bob Wallace while working in the Gulf of Mexico. Here she shares a portrait of our beloved captain: Read More
An aboriginal subsistence quota for whaling is only supportable as a category if it is reserved for people who truly do subsist by hunting whales. The trouble is that it is largely used by corrupt claimants in notoriously crooked ways. Most outrageous is the aboriginal subsistence quota that the Russians have gotten in Kamchatka for their “aboriginal subsistence hunt” of gray whales (and that Paul Watson so memorably exposed when he invaded the Soviet Union and filmed frozen whale meat being used to feed mink and sable that were living in captive breeding cages on a soviet fur farm). The catcher boat used by the Soviets to kill those gray whales was a modern vessel and no true aboriginals feasted on the spoils of that hunt. Read More
Hueso, an old friend, is back at Península Valdés!
This morning, the whale community in front of the house in Golfo San José was unusual, and unforgettable too. After three days of almost non-stop rain and wind, the sun shone again in Península Valdés. The dirt road has big mudpools that are drying under the sun and the dry west wind. Read More
Greetings from Patagonia! We are just starting the 44th field research season of the Right Whale Program at Península Valdés, Argentina. Diego Taboada, José Carracedo and I drove from Buenos Aires down to Patagonia. The 17-hour drive took us from the great city to the isolated beauty of Whale Camp, the research station on the shores of Golfo San José. Not only were the whales waiting for us… an amazing group of young guanacos also greeted us at night! A very beautiful sight. Read More
It’s spring in Argentina, and that means its time for our Southern Right Whale Program to begin at Península Valdés in Patagonia. The Right Whale team will be sharing life at whale camp with you in the coming weeks. First up–our aerial photographer John Atkinson from Ontario, Canada returns once again and shares this: Read More
Ocean conservation leaders met up in New York City this week to collaborate on solutions for the problems facing our oceans. Ocean Alliance President Roger Payne and CEO Iain Kerr were invited by Parley for the Oceans to join scientists, activists and artists, including music producer Pharrell Williams, legendary oceanographer Sylvia Earle, NASA astronaut Leland Melvin, and Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson, to talk about our work studying the effects of pollutants on whales. Read More