Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week in Review: SeaWorld is Ending its Killer Whale Program

1. SeaWorld is Ending its Killer Whale Program

This Thursday, SeaWorld announced that it is finally ending its orca program. SeaWorld currently has 29 killer whales ranging from 1 to 51 years old. Those whales will remain in captivity but will be placed in "new, inspiring natural orca encounters". Although SeaWorld has not released a formal statement to respond to exactly why it has chosen to end their program, it is likely due to the documentary Blackfish. Between the legal battles and the 60% decrease of the stock price, SeaWorld has seen drastic financial challenges in the last 3 years. Blackfish directed a number of societal pressure towards SeaWorld and in the past they stated that "SeaWorld has been listening and we're changing. Society is changing and we're changing with it".  Read more...


2. How Plants Can Help Track Climate Change

Geographer describes how plants help track climate change
Professor of geography, Mark D. Schwartz, of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has determined that the start of growing seasons have started a week earlier than it did 50 years ago. Schwartz used a combination of plant data, air temperature records, and satellite imagery to model how climate change impacts spring and fall. According to Schwartz, "plants on the ground can tell us more and give insight into questions that satellites can't".  Read more...


3. Dolphin Count Reveals Homebody Habits

Dolphin count reveals homebody habits

This week, an article was published in Frontiers revealing the homebody habits of dolphins. The study is the latest in a long line of research done by scientists at Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU). The goal of the program is to help provide more baseline data on the northwest's dolphins to develop conservation and protection strategies. The article reports on the Australian snubfin, humpback, and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. The scientists and volunteers at MUCRU surveyed the dolphin areas multiple times and it appeared that the same individual dolphins were in the same areas year after year.  Read more...


4. Southern Right Whale Recovery in Doubt After Being on Brink of Extinction

A southern right whaleSouthern right whales were hunted to the brink of extinction at the start of the 20th century. Approximately 35,000 to 41,000 southern right whales were estimated to have been killed in New Zealand between 1827 and 1980. Oil was extracted from its blubber and used to street lamos as well as food. Since that point, the population has only recovered to 12% of its original size. A study recently published in the Royal Society Open Science journal reported that it would take at least six decades for the population to fully recover and, by that time, it would likely be impacted by climate change.  Read more...


5. Can a Long-Dead Reverend Help Save Amazonia's Freshwater Dolphins?

An Amazon River pink dolphin.

During a 2007 survey, 116 groups of pink river dolphins and 220 groups of gray river dolphins were found in the Amazon River between Colombia and Peru. This was an increase from previous population totals taken in 1993 and 2002. Why is this the case? What conservation practice is helping these species? Well, these data points may be a result of the variables in the observation techniques. This is a challenge tracking the population sizes of all species. Rob Williams, a marine mammal scientist at the University of St Andrews, and team developed a way to review survey data incorporating a flexible statistical approach developed by the English Presbyterian minister, Reverend Thomas Bayes, in the 1750s. After processing the possibly problematic survey data, Williams and team reported that there is a 75% probability that the gray dolphin population was stable or increase and an equal probability that the pink dolphin numbers declined.   Read more...


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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.