Cetacean Society International mourns the loss of a second beluga at Mystic Aquarium, calls for a thorough inquiry
Connecticut-based Cetacean Society International (CSI) is heartbroken to learn that another whale has died at Mystic Aquarium and that a third whale is in their intensive care unit in critical condition. These animals are among the five whales that Mystic brought to Connecticut from the Canadian facility Marineland.
CSI, along with a number of other conservation organizations, has repeatedly raised concerns detailing welfare and policy issues, especially highlighting concerns about the health of the whales being brought to Mystic Aquarium.
As noted in an editorial co-authored by CSI president David Kaplan and Dr. Naomi Rose of the Animal Welfare Institute, Mystic tried to portray its import of five whales as a rescue effort given the poor conditions at the Marineland facility. Yet now two of these belugas, purportedly being saved, have now died at Mystic and a third is critically ill.
As stated in the editorial, serious unanswered questions remain about this import, and Cetacean Society International demands a thorough inquiry, and answers from not only the aquarium, but also government authorities in the U.S and Canada as to why animals with apparent pre-existing health conditions were allowed to be exposed to the stress of international transport.
Great news for whales!! Iceland to end Whaling
Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Iceland’s Minister of Fisheries, stated there is little evidence that whaling is economically beneficial to Iceland. The current government regulations allows for whaling until the year 2023, and Svandís says she sees little reason to permit the practice after that license expires.
The Whale Listening Project will take place from September 23-26, 2021.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
7-8pm, followed by 8-8:30pm Q&A
“The Ever-Evolving Songs of Humpback Whales”
Dr. Roger Payne and Katy Payne
Johnson Museum of Art, Lecture Hall
The long and haunting songs of humpback whales changed history 50 years ago through the release of a recording: Songs of the Humpback Whale. Hearing the voices of these animals affected audiences, stimulating the "Save the Whales" movement – spearheaded by Roger Payne – to regulate and partially close the global whaling industry, and to raise interest in whales among artists and musicians. It also stimulated whale song studies which have continued ever since on breeding grounds in all oceans, as we've learned that whales are improvisational composers, whose communal song rapidly changes in every breeding season and thus is always unique both to time and place. All of this has recently become of great interest to the musical community.
For info visit: https://music.cornell.edu/thewhalelisteningproject
The Options High School in Hartford, CT along with CSI raised $900 to support whale conservation. They collected clothes and stuffed animals and hosted a large tag sale right next to Conny the whale at the Children's Museum. Items that did not sell were dropped off to Savers. It was a great event for all.
CSI along with other conservation organizations has signed onto a letter to Japanese Government officials ahead of the Summer Games. Calling on them to unite in restoring whale populations to their pre-whaling numbers instead of killing them in light of the important role whales play in the ecosystem. Read the full letter here.
When the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, it highlighted the fact that tens of thousands of whales were being killed by whalers each year. Sperm whales were among the hardest hit, and in June of 1970 the species was listed as endangered by the US. In response, CSI (then known as the Connecticut Cetacean Society) rallied to bring public attention to the sperm whale’s possible extinction, and successfully campaigned to name the sperm whale the official animal of the State of Connecticut. As part of its effort, CSI volunteers constructed a life-sized 60 foot ferro-cement sperm whale, nicknamed Conny. The Children’s Museum of West Hartford generously offered a home for Conny, where the iconic and world-famous whale has delighted and helped to educate children for nearly 50 years.
Commercial hunting of sperm whales has ended, but the species is still threatened by entanglement in fishing gear, plastic pollution and climate change impacts on their natural habitat. Conny is needed as much as ever to help raise awareness of these issues. The Children’s Museum and Conny are in need of a new home (link to the NBC story*). CSI is hoping that you will join the campaign to Save Conny the Whale. You can take action by signing a petition at https://www.change.org/p/help-us-bring-the-children-s-museum-to-hartford-s-west-end
*Children's Museum Vows Iconic Whale Will Make Move With Them to New Location
Salt was sighted on March 21, 2021.
The whale sighting of the year took place on March 21, 2021 on a trip with the Boston Aquarium. Gerald Mercier photographed the most sighted and most loved whale in the world, Salt. This great-grandmother, first sighted in 1976 was in the company of a much smaller whale, probably a humpback born last spring.
Salt was the first humpback whale given a name whose family tree includes more than thirty-three named individuals. She is the most popular whale in the CSI Whale Adoption program and her DVD is an emotional journey into her salt-water home.
CSI Call to Action! Help Protect Endangered Right Whales
North Atlantic right whales are an iconic New England species. Unfortunately, these majestic whales are on the brink of extinction, unless steps are taken to reduce human-caused deaths. With only about 360 North Atlantic right whales left, this critically endangered species needs your help. The U.S. government has proposed a series of actions that they claim will protect these whales from entanglement in lobster and Jonah crab gear; unfortunately, the proposals are based on outdated information and fall far short of what is really needed.
We ask all CSI supporters to submit a comment to the U.S. government before March 1, 2021 via this webpage. You do not have to write a long comment and your own words can make a difference. You can mention if you been on a whalewatch and seen a right whale, or been moved by a news report about the death of an entangled whale. The form allows you to type a comment into the portal or you can write a letter and upload the file to the site.
Here are some background points that you might consider raising:
The proposed measures are based on outdated information and will not protect right whales in the short-term or long-term. Stronger protections must be developed to save right whales from extinction.
• The proposed measures will not be implemented for at least another year, and the right whale
cannot sustain even the loss of a single whale per year.
NOAA Fisheries should use its emergency authority to put lobster and Jonah crab line closures in place in areas where large numbers of right whales and harmful fishing gear co-exist in Southern New England and offshore in the Gulf of Maine.
NOAA Fisheries must do all it can to safely promote the use of ropeless fishing technologies
Right whales are critically endangered, but their population can still recover if we lower human-caused deaths.
Thank you for helping us help the right whales!
CSI will be sending out its next Whales Alive. In the upcoming newsletter, board member Kate O'Connell wrote an article titled "Scientists raise the alarm, call for immediate actions to protect endangered cetaceans" Cetaceans are adversely affected by many interacting factors, including chemical and noise pollution, loss of habitat and prey, climate change
and ship-strikes. For many, foremost among these threats is incidental take in fishing operations. To get a preview of this article visit: http://www.mammalresearchinstitute.science/whale-unit
NOAA Imposes Strong Restrictions on Aquariums’ Import of Captive Belugas for Research
West Hartford, CT (September 3, 2020) Cetacean Society International (CSI) and other animal and environmental protection groups applaud the Department of Commerce’s decision to prohibit Mystic Aquarium from breeding five captive-born beluga whales from Canada as part of an import permit issued Friday. The permit also precludes Mystic from training the whales for performance.
The Connecticut aquarium applied for a permit last year to import the belugas from Marineland, a marine theme park in Niagara Falls, Canada, for the purpose of scientific research. Among other research projects, Mystic proposed behavioral and reproduction studies, including breeding and research on pregnant females and their progeny, raising concerns that the real purpose of the import was to perpetuate the captive beluga population for public display in the United States. Moreover, under a partnership between Mystic and Georgia aquariums, three of the whales could eventually be transferred to Atlanta. The permit conditions clarify that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)must approve any decision to transfer the animals.
In issuing the permit Friday, NMFS authorized seven of Mystic’s eight research projects; it did not authorize the study related to reproduction. The permit conditions prohibit the aquariums from breeding the whales, using them in public interactive programs(such as photo opportunities), or training them for performance.
The permit restrictions come after a group of animal and environmental protection organizations submitted comments* in December opposing the permit, outlining their substantive legal and policy objections under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). These groups urged the inclusion of the no-breeding and no-performance clauses in a permit if one was issued, as well as the clarification that NMFS — not the permit holder —should make any decisions regarding the disposition of these whales.
NMFS’s decision is indicative of a broader global movement in recent years to end the unsustainable and inhumane cetacean trade and public display. The 2013 documentary “Blackfish” had an enormous impact on the public’s view of captive orcas. That same year, NMFS denied a request by Georgia Aquarium to import wild-caught Russian belugas for public display. In 2016, SeaWorld ended orca breeding at its parks, and, last year, Canada passed a law to phase out the keeping of cetaceans in captivity in the country.
CSI president David Kaplan stated, “We are pleased that NMFS has banned Mystic Aquarium from breeding the belugas, as we worried that the import would create a backdoor that would have allowed the industry to get “new blood” into US captive beluga breeding programs.” Before Mystic can import the belugas, the facility must provide NMFS with a detailed contraception plan to prevent breeding, and Canada must issue a permit to export the whales from Marineland. Kaplan continued, “CSI believes it is no longer justifiable for whales to be kept in captivity.”
Canada is currently developing regulatory procedures for issuing export permits for captive cetaceans under its new law and is calling for public submissions; animal advocates support strong and clear requirements in such permits to prohibit breeding and performance. Many countries do not have comparable laws to the MMPA, and Canada must ensure any captive cetaceans exported from the country continue to be covered by Canada’s powerful legislative protections.
-Right Whales need your help!! The Government of Canada is seeking public comments on a proposed Action Plan for right whales. This is a requirement of our Species at Risk Act. Go to: https://rightwhaletosave.org/en/ and leave a comment to help critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whales!
-North Atlantic Right Whales Now Red-Listed As Critically Endangered. According to Vineyard Gazette, “The North Atlantic right whale has officially been red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature — an ominous step for a species that has long teetered on the brink of extinction.
May 15 is Endangered Species Day. Check out this article about Orca Whales in this time of Covid-19:
Cetacean Society International signed on to a global declaration to end the commercial trade and sale in markets of wildlife. Add your voice and sign the petition at: https://endthetrade.com/
The legislature’s Environment Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing at 10:30 a.m. Friday in the Legislative Office Building on Raised Bill 5341: "An act prohibiting the sale and breeding of certain cetaceans.” If approved by the legislature this spring, it would take effect Oct. 1.
CSI is in support of this Bill and ask that Connecticut residents contact your state reps and ask them to support the bill.
You can locate your legislator at https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp
Call and say you support House Bill 5341 and give the name of the bill AN ACT PROHIBITING THE SALE AND BREEDING OF CERTAIN CETACEANS.
Phone calls to the chairs of environment committee in favor:
House Chair Mike Demicco
Senate Chair Christine Cohen
-Cornell University will be hosting a series of free events and workshops called "The Whale Listening Project. For more information about the event go to: https://music.cornell.edu/thewhalelisteningproject.
-On February 17, 2020 CSI held it's annual meeting and elected the directors for 2020:
President, David Kaplan Esq.
Treasurer, George A. Upton, PE
Vice President, Kurt Ransom
Secretary, Jennifer Cody
A. Daniel Knaub
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020 premieres “Whales Without Walls,” a short film about the Whale Sanctuary Project.
A legend in the scientific community and champion of whale conservation,
Dr. Sidney Holt passed away on December 22, 2019 at the age of 93. Holt’s scientific career spanned 70 years and he is probably most remembered for a book he coauthored back in 1957 called On the Dynamics of Exploitation of Fisheries Populations. This book, considered to be the foundation for modern fisheries science, is still used today. He also worked in various leadership roles for the United Nations for 25 years. After his retirement, he focused on whale conservation for the next 30 years. A champion of the "Save the Whales" movement that started in the 70s, Sidney was a lead proponent of both the International Whaling Commission’s commercial whaling moratorium and the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. He was also one of the first to support the late Robbins Barstow and Cetacean Society International’s push to get the concept of “non-consumptive utilization of whales” and whale watching accepted by the IWC. He received many honors for his conservation work, including the Royal Netherlands Golden Ark and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global 500 award.
-CSI's Letter to the Editor Published November 11, 2019 in The Day, New London, CT
Mystic Aquarium Should Not Import Belugas
Mystic Aquarium wants to import five belugas from Marineland in Canada for research. The whales are offspring of wild-caught whales from a Russian population designated as "depleted," making their import for public display illegal under U.S. law. Mystic has limited space, so the whales will be on display by default.
Three of the whales will belong to Georgia Aquarium, which tried importing 18 wild-caught belugas from Russia for display and breeding. This led to powerful criticism of the attempt to tear these young whales from their families. The facility lost a federal court battle in 2015 because the import would have violated U.S. standards. It is disturbing that Mystic, a well-respected facility, would partner with such an aquarium.
Mystic's precedent-setting proposal seems like a public display dressed as research. The whales could mate and produce offspring being a backdoor to get "new blood" into U.S. captive beluga breeding programs.
It is no longer justifiable for whales to be kept in captivity for purposes of exhibition, and a new Canadian law prohibits display, breeding, import and export of cetaceans. Mystic should help improve life for the belugas at Marineland and conduct any needed research there.
-CSI will be set up at Open Studio Hartford November 9 and 10th in the Colt Buidling, 140 Huyshope Ave, Hartford, CT. We will have our Rails to Trails prints, the art of Don Sineti, whale ornaments by Jessica Dickens for sale and more. Come visit our booth! We would love to see you!
-CSI 's SAVERS campaign this fall just ended.
We delivered a truck load today to SAVERS. In fact, 2341 lbs of donated clothes
-CSI Co-sponsors a survey that reveals Norway Shows little appetite for whale meat
The future of Norway’s whaling industry appears to be in serious doubt as it struggles to deal with low catch numbers, falling prices for whale meat and declining interest in its products on the domestic market. The head of Norway’s Whalers’ Association, Truls Soløy, described the 2019 whaling season as “particularly disappointing” after a total of 429 minke whales were killed, even fewer than last year (454) and well below the country’s self-allocated quota of 1,278. The declining catch reflects the dwindling domestic demand for whale meat, despite continuing subsidies ploughed into the industry by the Norwegian government.
CSI Sponsors Latest Entanglement Response Trainees in Cape Cod.
This year’s two apprentices to the Global Whale Entanglement Response Network have completed their training with the IWC and its partner, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS), and returned to Peru.
Vanessa Bachmann and Chiara Guidino are the latest people to participate in the apprenticeship programme, which builds on skills learnt on a previous, two-day entanglement response workshop. The apprenticeships take place at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, US, and cover more advanced aspects of entanglement response, from boat safety regulations and design of the custom-built tools, to a study of the approaches taken by different response teams around the world.
Perhaps most importantly, apprentices are taught how to deliver the two-day workshops which the IWC organises in partnership with national governments and are held in-country. These teach safe and effective entanglement response to groups of 20-40 participants including fishers, coastguard, naval and conservation officers, all nominated by their governments. A number of former apprentices are now conducting training themselves, as well as leading their countries’ response teams and networks.