See a Rescue Effort to Save 10 Stranded Whales
Scientists aren’t sure why the massive Sperm Whales suddenly beached themselves in Indonesia.
By Sarah Gibbens, 2017;

Saving one 40-ton Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is a huge feat—so when 10 live Sperm Whales washed ashore off the coast of Aceh in northeastern Indonesia, it required a small army of wildlife volunteers.

In an emailed statement from WWF Indonesia, representative Aryo Tjiptohandono said the WWF team, environmental officials from the Indonesian government, and the Indonesian Navy were dispatched to Ujung Kareng Beach on Monday morning. Posting live updates on their Facebook page, the local conservation group Whale Stranding Indonesia commented that rescue groups were working around the clock to save the Whales.

Successfully moving Whales back into the ocean requires trained professionals with the right equipment, and some luck. A Whale stranded on a beach can usually only survive a day or two before succumbing to exposure, said Heidi Pearson, a professor at the University of Alaska Southeast. Pearson has assisted with saving stranded Whales in Alaska.

“One of the main concerns is their organs collapsing under their weight,” she explained. At sea, Whales are more buoyant, but once their bodies are out of the water, gravity begins to take hold. Whales can also suffer from sunburns and dehydration.

Drone footage shot by WWF Indonesia shows a messy tangle of ropes and people struggling to wrangle the Whales from shallow waters. Tug boats were used to pull the Whales out to shore, but other rescues have been conducted using a modified stretcher and cranes.

By around midnight Indonesian time, five of the Sperm Whales were successfully floated back out to sea. Several hours later, rescuers were able to move two back to sea. Early this morning, three were pronounced dead, and one of the refloated Whales returned to shore and died.

Wildlife officials aren’t sure what caused the stranding. Accounts of Whales beaching themselves have been documented for centuries, but finding the whales still alive is less common.

“Before we could get our expert to conduct necropsies on the four carcasses, the situation on the ground was getting out of hand as masses started to swarm the area,” said Tjiptohandono. He claimed residents wanting to help swarmed the beaches, making it difficult for rescuers and researchers to move the Whales and collect samples.

Without having more detailed reports from the carcasses, it’s difficult to know exactly why the whales became stranded.

Many float to shore and become stranded when they’re sick, said Pearson. Whales have also become stranded after losing their sense of direction.

“A third reason is they’re group forming. One member of the group might strand, and the other members will also strand because their bonds are so tight,” she said. “Healthy animals will strand because they’re good friends.”

Whales have also stranded because of sonic or acoustic interference. The animals communicate via underwater sonar and calls, so large vessels or disturbances in the water can interfere with their ability to navigate.

Most frustrating, Pearson conceded, is “sometimes we just don’t know.”

While a stranding en masse is less common than an individual whale floating ashore, the event in Indonesia is far from the largest involving cetaceans. Eighty-two dolphins (False Killer Whales) (Pseudorca crassidens) mysteriously beached themselves in Florida earlier this year, and the largest stranding recorded took place in 1946, when 835 Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) beached themselves in Argentina.

In 2016, more than 30 Sperm Whales beached themselves at the edge of the North Sea. An impressively large amount of plastic was found in their bellies, but the stranding was attributed to a lost sense of direction. Sperm Whales have a huge geographic range and are found throughout the world’s oceans, but whaling during the late 19th and early 20th centuries reduced their population numbers by more than 60 percent. Today, they’re classified as vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

WWF will continue to monitor the six rescued Sperm Whales in Indonesia via drone to ensure they stay safely in the water.

Source: National Geographic


Oil spill off Johor: Affected fish farms plan to seek compensation
6th January 2017;

With affected fish farms mulling legal action in the wake of Tuesday’s oil spill, lawyers told Channel NewsAsia that the ship owners responsible for the spill are liable.

Source: Channel NewsAsia


Timothy Ng, operations manager of two farms affected by the oil spill, has lost about 20kg of fish so far.

Source: The Straits Times Facebook


An up-close look at the oily sludge that has ruined the fish stock and pens of some Singapore farms after an oil spill off Johor.

Video: Winnie Goh

Source: Channel NewsAsia Facebook


For fish farmer Phillip Lim, the oil spill comes at a particularly bad time, as it will affect his fish sales for the new year period. He added that the oil will not only kill his fish, but provide nutrients for harmful algae blooms.

Video: Audrey Tan

Source: The Straits Times Facebook


Malaysia: Animal cruelty displayed at its best as man repeatedly runs over Monitor Lizard to death with his motorcycle
8th December 2016;

Whatever the reason may be, animal cruelty is never acceptable.

A video of a man repeatedly running over – what appears to be – a Monitor Lizard with his motorcycle has enraged netizens, condemning the act as inhumane and uncalled for.

The video that ran for a minute and thirty-three seconds depict the man on his motorcycle abusing the animal for “eating their fish stocks” while his fellow counterpart records and can be heard laughing like a hyena in the background.

But clearly running it over wasn’t enough for the man as he then proceeds to hit the Lizard with a stick – presumably a hoe until it appeared dead.

Oomedianetworks uploaded the video on their Facebook page yesterday and received over 17k views, and netizens didn’t refrain from expressing their two cents.

Clearly, there are other civilised and humane ways for the duo to tackle the animal, like capturing it and releasing it elsewhere or buck up their security – it didn’t have to come to this as no animal deserves to endure such torment.

Source: Malaysian Digest

Malaysia: Whale Shark freed after 12-hour ordeal
By R.S.N. Murali, 17th November 2016;

A Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus) survived a 12-hour ordeal after being trapped in a fishing net and lying on the beach before finally being freed at Sungai Duyong jetty here.

The fish, weighing 1.5 tonnes, was dragged to the jetty before fishermen with the aid of State Fisheries Department released it to the sea.

Fisherman Mahat Ibrahim, 55, said the whale shark was entangled in his net while he was fishing about seven nautical miles off the coast here.

“My brother and I suspected something amiss when our boat struggled to drag in the catch and we found the Whale Shark in the net,” he said here yesterday.

He said the Whale Shark was dragged to shore near the jetty at 2.30am before it was released at about 1pm.

“I suffered a loss of RM7,000 as my fishing net was badly damaged after trapping such a heavy fish,” he said.

Many residents gathered to take pictures when news of the giant fish spread on social media.

State Agriculture, Entrepreneur Development committee chairman Datuk Hasan Abdul Rahman said the Whale Shark, scientifically known as Rhincodon typus, was released off Pulau Undan near here.

He said the fishermen tried to release the Whale Shark once they reached shore but couldn’t due to its tremendous size and weight, and decided to wait for the Fisheries Department to help.

He said the Whale Shark is a protected species under the Fisheries Act 1985 and listed as endangered under the Convention on Interna­tional Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Source: The Star