Tag Archives: Whales

What Not to Do if You See a Whale

A jet skier in Australia has been fined $15,000 for his second trailing of a whale while on his jet ski. He is the second person in Australia fined for getting too close to a whale with personal watercraft.  A boater in western Canada was fined for doing the same in 2008.

Whale watch tour operators in MA have all undergone Whale Safe training and typically do an excellent job of abiding by all rules set forth for the industry. In fact, they will call authorities when they see any occurrences of individual boaters getting too close to whales or other marine mammals.

A Primer for March 29 Man and Whales lecture

This Thursday night, March 29, the Whaling Museum is honored to host Captain Stacy Pedrozo and retired Captain Tom Fetherston, both from the United States Navy, as they discuss the very important (and wide open for debate) topic “Whose Homeland Security Is It: Protecting Marine Mammals While Protecting National Security”. Their presentation will begin at 7:30pm; reception starts at 6:30pm.

An editorial published in yesterday’s OregonLive.com presents an introduction to both sides of this issue while encouraging the public to review and respond during the scoping period for the U.S. Navy’s Northwest Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas EIS.

We hope to see you on Thursday night. See our website for more details about this presentation and the complete roster for our Combined Speaker Series.

The Problem of Noise in the Ocean

The transport of goods across the ocean, the search for fossil fuels deep in the seabed and the noise of pleasure craft all combine to cloud the medium that whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals use to communicate. The sounds we’ve added to the ocean makes feeding, navigating and staying in contact with each other much more difficult for these marine mammals. It’s akin to standing next to a highway trying to have a conversation as opposed to doing so next to a country road (Discovery News, June 2010)

The problem doesn’t seem to be limited to cetaceans and pinnipeds. Cephalopods, the squid, octopus and cuttlefish that are favored foods of whales and their kin, also appear to be negatively impacted by human generated noise. Check out this Discovery News article from April 2011.

An article published yesterday in CNN Opinion, by Cornell’s Chris Clark and Brandon Southall, formerly of NOAA, offers some thoughtful suggestions as to how we can combat this problem that we’ve created. We created the technology that makes the noise. We can create the technology that minimizes the noise.

The animal shown in the article is a Risso’s Dolphin.

May you have a quiet weekend, except while you’re cheering on the New England Patriots.

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.

The Underwater Behavior of Humpbacks, with Dr. David Wiley

Join us on Thursday, October 21 at 6:30pm for an illustrated talk by Dr. David Wiley Research coordinator of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. He will focus on the underwater behavior of humpbacks.

Co-sponsored by The Descendants of Whaling Masters.

A reception with light refreshments will precede the event.


Philip Hoare, award-winning author and naturalist to speak at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on July13

Award-winning British author Philip Hoare will speak at the New Bedford Whaling Museum about his lifelong obsession with whales and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, on Tuesday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m.

His new book, The Whale – In Search of the Giants of the Sea, won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. In a richly illustrated talk, Hoare will plumb the depths of the whale’s domain to reveal it as never before, trace its cultural history from Jonah to Free Willy, and show images from his ten years experience of whales, from Cape Cod to the Azores and New Zealand.

A widely followed commentator on the politics and proceedings of the International Whaling Commission, Hoare recently noted, “We stand at a crossroads for cetaceans. We see the fragile existence of these animals as a barometer of ecological threat. As symbols of an endangered world, they evoke, and provoke, anthropomorphism on a scale equal to their size and supposed intelligence.”

Philip Hoare is the author of several books, including Serious Pleasures: The Life of Stephen Tennant; Noel Coward; Oscar Wilde’s Last Stand; Spike Island; and England’s Lost Eden. He lives in Southampton, England, and frequently visits Cape Cod as a member of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies as a volunteer on its humpback whale identification program. He also written and narrated a BBC film documentary, The Hunt For Moby-Dick, which brought him to New Bedford five years ago.

The Whale has garnered praise on both sides of the Atlantic. Publishers Weekly said of the book, “With Melville as his mentor and Ishmael as his muse, the author haunts one-time whaling town New Bedford, Mass., America’s richest city in the mid–19th century thanks to whale oil and baleen… This tour de force is a sensuous biography of the great mammals that range on and under Earth’s oceans.”

For the New York Times Book Review, Nathaniel Philbrick wrote, “Genius… The Whale (is) a rhapsodic meditation on all things cetacean. Hoare is always on the lookout for the revealing detail. He also has a finely tuned sense of perspective and pacing.”

The Washington Post noted that Hoare’s work “is rigorous, something every serious student of whales — and, more widely conceived, of the natural world — will want to have at hand.” National Public Radio said, “You don’t have to love Moby-Dick to love this book. But if you do, The Whale is probably one of the most sublime reading experiences you’ll have this year.”

The lecture is free to the public. The book is available for sale in the Museum store.

For more information, contact:
Arthur Motta
Director, Marketing & Communications
(508) 997-0046, ext. 153

How to Tag a Whale

Museum colleague, Rui Prieto, who works in the Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas (DOP) at the University of the Azores in Horta, Faial, has been tracking big baleen whales.  He and others in the DOP do so by attaching satellite tags to the backs of these animals.  Here’s a video clip of Rui shooting a tag into a whale.

For more about The Great Whales Satellite Telemetry Program, the whales that are currently tagged or those that had been tagged, visit their site at Great Whales Satellite Telemetry Program.

Whaling in the 21st Century and Before

Later this month, a new proposal to suspend the moratorium on commercial whaling will be presented at the annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission.  This proposal has created a great deal of controversy within the IWC and around the globe.

In light of this proposal, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society’s UK office has created a presentation using Shockwave software the tallies the commercial, scientific and subsistence harvests of whales in recent decades.

Whaling in the 21st Century and Before

This data, combined with the comprehensive Whaling Zones map in our new exhibit, The Hunt for Knowledge, gives a complete picture of who, what, where, why and how many.

For some, this is a complex issue, requiring a gathering of facts from all points of view.  For others, there’s no need for discussion; their minds are made up.  Whatever your point of view is, it’s good to be armed with the details.

New Exhibit Opens, “The Hunt for Knowledge”

The Whaling Museum’s new “The Hunt for Knowledge” exhibition was unveiled to the public during a ribbon cutting event held on Friday, May 28, after the Museum’s annual meeting.  Museum President James Russell,  Museum Trustee, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution biologist, Michael Moore, WM VP for Collections and Exhibitions, Greg Galer and WM Science Programs Manager, Robert Rocha, who developed the exhibit, all participated in the ceremony.

This exhibit focuses on a variety of cetacean conservation and research issues, and features many objects donated by a variety of sources.  The information on the exhibit panels addresses many of the questions asked by the visiting public.   The Museum is proud to expand its role  in supporting the understanding of and conservation of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Moore, Rocha, Galer and Russell cut the ribbon for the new exhibit.

“Wave Glider: Expanding our Ability to Listen to Whales”

“Wave Glider: Expanding our Ability to Listen to Whales” with Joe Rizzi

“The Man and Whales Lecture Series” continues April 14, at 7:30 pm

Studying whales is a rewarding but daunting task.  Whales may be big, but the ocean is bigger and the weather doesn’t always cooperate.  Providing a complete picture of the animals and the habitat requires collaboration, technology and ingenuity.
Joseph Rizzi, Chairman of the Jupiter Foundation, got together in his early retirement with a small group of very talented friends to create programmable, mobile technology for listening to whales.  Joe’s presentation is a story about how listening to whales inspired the invention of an elegant device that will not only enable further whale studies, but could become a host-platform for a wide range of previously impossible oceanic applications.

The lecture starts at 7:30 pm in the Museum Theater.
A reception at 6:30 pm is held in the Jacobs Family Gallery before the lecture.
Admission is FREE.