Category Archives: Conservation

Odontocetes (Toothed Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises) Suffering Globally Due to Entanglement

A report released on Monday by the United Nations Environment Programme’s Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, authored by Professor Boris Culik of Kiel University in Germany, depicts a very sad state of affairs for the toothed cetaceans in our oceans.  “The conservation status of toothed whales has worsened dramatically since 2001,” stated Dr. Culik.

Entanglement in gillnets, traps, weirs, purse seines, longlines and trawls are having a negative impact on 62 of the 72 species of toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises in our global ocean.  Unfortunately, if they steer clear of the nets and lines, they have to contend with water-borne pollution (including heavy metals, PCBs, DDT) and noise pollution.

We may have stopped deliberately hunting whales, but we haven’t stopped killing them.

How Do You Autopsy A Whale?

That question is the title of an article in Popular Science, which features recent Whaling Museum Trustee, Dr. Michael Moore.  Michael was part of the teams that did the necropsies for the Museum’s blue, sperm and right whales.

So, for those of you who wanted to know what happens when a whale washes ashore, you have an answer provided by an expert.

A mark of excellence

The American Association of Museums (AAM), Washington, D.C., announced the New Bedford Whaling Museum has earned reaccreditation at the most recent meeting of the Accreditation Commission. Accredited status from AAM is the highest national recognition achievable by an American museum.

In its announcement, AAM stated that reaccreditation is awarded only after a comprehensive yearlong examination and peer review of all aspects of the Whaling Museum’s mission, operations and programming. “Accreditation is emblematic of many things, the highest standards in museum operations, outstanding public programs, and long-term sustainability among them,” said Ford W. Bell, AAM president. “Accreditation is clearly a significant achievement. But put simply, it means the citizens of the communities served by these museums have in their midst one of America’s finest museums.”

In her letter to museum president, James Russell, Dr. Bonnie W. Styles, Chair of the AAM Accreditation Commission, wrote “We found the museum to be a highly performing organization that has a solid strategic plan, excellent community engagement and is dealing strategically and realistically with budget hardships. We particularly liked the three-tier intern apprenticeship program. The museum is also a good example of merging history and science together in exhibits and programming.”

Mr. Russell noted the importance of reaccreditation. “We are extremely proud of this achievement. It validates years of hard work on the part of our dedicated trustees, volunteers and staff – evaluated against the strictest professional and national standards. This honor elevates all of New Bedford and the South Coast region, and it reenergizes us in the continued building of a greater, stronger Whaling Museum,” he said.

AAM Accreditation recognizes the highest standards in individual museums and ensures that museums continue to uphold their public trust. Developed and sustained by museum professionals for 40 years, the AAM museum accreditation program is the field’s primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation and public accountability.

In the heat of summer, think penguins

There are more than a few artifacts at the Whaling Museum related to historic expeditions. So naturally, we tend to think of expeditions in historical terms, just as every new exhibit may be thought of as an expedition of discovery and learning. It isn’t lately, however, that we are able note the embarkation of an actual expedition with a Museum connection such as the one scheduled for this November, and one on which you are invited to participate.

Former Whaling Museum Trustee, Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), will represent the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) on an expedition cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, departing Ushuaia, Argentina on November 20, 2011, returning on December 8.

Made possible by SGHT’s collaboration with One Ocean Expeditions – well known for its high quality, safe and responsible Polar Expeditions – their ice-strengthened ship will take only 100 passengers. For this voyage only, One Ocean will make a generous donation to the SGHT Habitat Restoration Project, of which Dr. Moore has been part for many years.

To book, or with any other enquiry, call Denise at (970) 704-9178, or email alison.neil@sght.org. For more information see the One Ocean Expedition cruise flyer and details on the arctic exploration vessel, Akademic Ioffe.

Final Night of Man and Whales: Changing Views Through Time

"Whale" by William Daniell, 1807. From Whaling Museum Kendall Collection

Stranded Whales: Commodity and Conservation, May 18

(NEW BEDFORD, MA) – Man and Whales: Changing Views Through Time, a free public lecture series at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, concludes on Wednesday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater with a lecture titled “Stranded Whales: Commodity and Conservation.” A reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Jacobs Family Gallery precedes the lecture. Admission is free.

Before the Marine Mammal Protection Act was created, a stranded whale was destined to become food, oil and a host of other products.  Now, these animals are considered a source of information for whale/human interactions.

Michael P. Dyer, Maritime Curator, New Bedford Whaling Museum, will take us back in history to when littoral peoples (seaside dwellers) scanned the shorelines in hopes of finding a stranded whale or dolphin.  This discussion will then shift forward to when stranded animals offered the rudiments of scientific understanding and ultimately the impetus toward actual whale hunting for commercial products and profit.

Katie Touhey Moore, Marine Mammal Rescue and Program Research Manager, International Fund for Animal Welfare, has been actively involved in rescue and rehabilitation of stranded cetaceans, as well as investigating and documenting the reasons for the deaths of these animals.  Katie will guide us through the process of assessment and attempted rescue and release. She will also elaborate on the knowledge gained from the necropsies.

As a finale to the Man & Whales lectures, the Whaling Museum is offering a unique opportunity to meet whales on Saturday, May 21. A special whale watch trip is available in partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, departing from the Whaling Museum at 8:00 a.m. to Capt. John Boats, 10 Town Wharf, Plymouth Harbor. Tickets are $75 per person, payable in advance, and include roundtrip transportation. Reservations are required and seating is limited. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Whaling Museum and WDCS. Please call Museum Admissions, 508-997-0046 ext.100, to RSVP for the free lectures and/or sign up for the whale watch.

This series is sponsored by ECHO (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations) a program administered by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Offered in partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Scrimshaw Weekend expands with nautical antiques auction, May 13-15

This English watercolor of the ship Iona in its original frame is one of many consigned and donated nautical antiques in the Scrimshaw Weekend's Benefit Auction on May 14 at 8pm, proceeds to benefit the New Bedford Whaling Museum. None of the items are from the Museum's collections. (Photo by Richard Donnelly)

Scrimshaw experts, collectors and fans from around the world have another reason to look forward to the 22nd Annual Scrimshaw Weekend at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, May 13-15. It features three days of new presentations and activities, including a first-ever public auction of consigned nautical antiques on Saturday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater.

The world’s only forum dedicated to the indigenous shipboard art of whalemen, Scrimshaw Weekend attracts enthusiasts from four continents to share the enjoyment of collecting and researching this remarkable artwork at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of scrimshaw.

The weekend kicks off at noon on Friday, May 13 with a Marine Antiques Show and Swap Meet, expanded by popular demand. On Friday evening, the keynote address titled “‘Built’ Scrimshaw: Types, Tools, and Construction Methods” is presented by James Vaccarino, J.D., and Sanford Moss, Ph.D. at 8:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater. A full day of special programs devoted to scrimshaw on Saturday will wrap up with a cocktail reception at 5:00 p.m. and gala banquet at 6:00 p.m. The banquet will be followed by a public auction of consigned and donated nautical antiques at 8:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater, with proceeds to benefit the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Special exhibitions and an optional fieldtrip on Sunday are also planned.

Marine Antiques Show and Swap Meet

On Friday, May 13, from noon to 5:00 p.m., the second annual Marine Antiques and Swap Meet will feature for sale high quality marine antiques including scrimshaw, nautical instruments and tools, whaling logbooks, ship models, photos, paintings, prints, New Bedford memorabilia, and more in the Jacobs Family Gallery. Entry fee for the Antiques Show and Swap Meet only is $5, or free with museum admission or membership.

Scrimshaw Plenary Sessions

On Saturday, May 14, plenary sessions from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. will include, “Care and Feeding: Taking Care of Your Scrimshaw – Expanded,” with Conservator and Curatorial Intern, D. Jordan Berson, M.A., M.L.S.; Scrimshaw Preservation and Conservation Q&A Session; “Pictorial Sources of Scrimshaw in Institutional and Private Collections” with Jack H. T. Chang, M.D.; “Pictorial Sources of Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum,” with Stuart Frank, Ph.D., Senior Curator, NBWM; “Scrimshaw in the McDowell Collection”; “Pirates and Female Pirates on Scrimshaw,” and more.

Sessions will also include a Scrimshaw Market Report and Q&A with marine antiques dealer, Andrew Jacobson; an update on “A Comprehensive Catalogue of Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum,” with James Russell, Museum president; Richard Donnelly, book photographer, and Sara Eisenman, designer; Nautical Antiques Auction overview with Richard Donnelly, and a Collectors’ Show-and-Tell.

Public Auction of Consigned Nautical Antiques

On Saturday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m., guest auctioneer Ron Bourgeault of Northeast Auctions, LLC, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, will preside over the public auction of a wide array of consigned nautical antiques including scrimshaw and whale craft, marine paintings, engravings and lithographs, log books, charts, antique photos, nautical instruments and more in the Cook Memorial Theater. A featured expert on the popular PBS series, Antiques Roadshow, Ron’s career in the antiques business spans four decades. He established Northeast Auctions in 1987, now ranked among the largest auction houses in the United States.

The public auction will consist of consignment and donated items only, with proceeds to benefit the New Bedford Whaling Museum. No items are from the Museum’s collections.

Approximately 150 lots will include many fine examples of scrimshaw, including whales’ teeth, whale bone busks engraved with various subjects, whale bone fids, a whale ivory pie crimper, fine inlaid sewing box from the Nye family, five canes including lady’s leg and fist examples, cribbage board, carved whale’s tooth amulet, lady’s leg pipe tamper, hand & cuff bodkin, whale bone clothes pin, large whale bone carved spoon and more. Auction listings and photos are online at www.auctionzip.com.

Preview of auction items in the Resource Center begins Friday, May 13 from noon to 5:00 p.m. and on Saturday, May 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend the preview and auction at no charge. Left bids will be accepted. No phone or online bidding. Payment: cash, check and major credit cards accepted. There is a 15% buyer’s premium and Massachusetts sales tax is applicable to buyers without a valid resale certificate.

The fee for Scrimshaw Weekend, including admission to the Museum, all open galleries, Scrimshaw & Marine Antiques Show, scheduled meals, all plenary sessions and refreshments: $335 (Museum members $295) before May 1. After May 1 the fee is $370 (Museum members $330). Tickets to Saturday’s banquet only: $75 each.

On Sunday, May 15, an optional all-day fieldtrip will head to Nantucket Island and its Whaling Museum for a “behind the scenes” tour of its outstanding scrimshaw collection, including the museum’s off-campus storage facility. A special visit to an extraordinary private whaling collection will include a reception hosted by the owners. The bus will leave at 7:30 a.m. from the New Bedford Whaling Museum, returning by 8:00 p.m. The price is $235 and includes luncheon at the famed Jared Coffin House, all motor coach and ferry transportation.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Northeast Auctions, LLC of Portsmouth, NH, and the Maine Antique Digest, who have helped make Scrimshaw Weekend possible year after year.

To register, contact: Visitor Services, (508) 997-0046, ext. 100, or frontdesk@whalingmuseum.org

Another Misleading Headline

Penguin Scrimshaw from NBWM Kendall Collection

I know just enough about the newspaper business to know that the folks who write the headlines are typically not the people who write the articles.  Mix a little bit of fact with a little sensationalism and you might get people to read it. Sometimes, though, you have to wonder what the underlying agenda or bias is. If the purpose is to touch a nerve, then it worked this time.

Case in point – Study: Climate Change, whales causing penguins to starve.  Although this article from TBD.com in DC is not as sensational as the headline, leading it in such a way is irresponsible. Whales, penguins and krill all filled their niches in the marine food chains and lived in balance long before humans began subtracting and adding to the oceans.

So, as always, read things carefully, especially when it comes to scientific articles. A non-science writer may have written the headline.

Adding to the Population…slowly

Female right whale with calf, by Richard Ellis. New Bedford Whaling Museum collection

A total of 20 offspring being added to a population doesn’t seem like much.  But, when the species is one as endangered as the North Atlantic Right Whale, even this number is worth noting.  A story in today’s Savannah Morning News talks a bit about the calving season and is a reminder that we can start looking for the mom’s and calves along the outer edges of Massachusetts soon.

On a related note, don’t forget about our whale watch field trip on Saturday, May 21, leaving the NBWM at 8:00am. Register with our front desk (508) 997-0046 x100 if you want to join us.

‘Man and Whales’ lecture to focus on Gulf oil spill, March 16

Man and Whales: Changing Views Through Time, a free public lecture series continues at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Wednesday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater with a pre-lecture reception in the Jacobs Family Gallery at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

The lecture titled The Gulf of Mexico: Spilling Crude Oil Where We Once Spilled Sperm Oil, is presented by Judy N. Lund and Deborah Cramer.

New Bedford has a deep-rooted connection to the one large ocean that covers more than 70% of our planet. Tonight we will examine our historic link to one place in our marine environment and how the continued quest for oil has impacted this region.

Judith N. Lund, former Curator, New Bedford Whaling Museum, will provide us with a historical overview of whaling in the Gulf of Mexico, an endeavor that until recently was not well documented. Using her soon-to-be-published paper as the foundation, Judy will explain how this smaller whale fishery fit in with the larger Atlantic whale fishery. Her most recent works includes a definitive two-volume reference, American Offshore Whaling Voyages, 1667-1927, published by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society – New Bedford Whaling Museum in 2010.

Deborah Cramer, Visiting Scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will explore the short term impact of the BP oil spill and the longer term consequence of oil drilling and shipping on the marshes of southeastern Louisiana and the wider Gulf, sharing her recent visit there and showing stunning photographs from her book, Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water Our World.

Both speakers will be available to sign their books at the pre-lecture reception.

Man & Whales lecture series will continue on April 20 and May 18.

As a finale to the lectures, the Whaling Museum is offering a unique opportunity to meet whales on Saturday, May 21. A special whale watch trip is available in partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, departing from the Whaling Museum at 8:00 a.m. to Capt. John Boats, Plymouth, MA. Tickets are $75 per person, payable in advance, and includes roundtrip transportation. Reservations are required and seating is limited. Proceeds will benefit the Whaling Museum and WDCS. Please call 508-997-0046 ext.100, to RSVP for the free lectures and/or sign up for the whale watch.

Man & Whales is sponsored by ECHO (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations) a program administered by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Offered in partnership with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

New Bedford Photo Contest

The City of New Bedford’s Conservation Commission has announced a wetland photo contest. Entries will be accepted through the end of September.  This contest will ultimately lead to an electronic calendar made from the 12 best photos.  What may be more important is that it encourages participants to actually notice these valuable resources within the City.  They are often overlooked but are critical for flood storage, water filtration and animal habitat.  We are happy to assist this contest in a small way by providing Museum passes for a couple of lucky participants.  Please consider participating and help to highlight another great facet of New Bedford.

Photo Contest Flyer