Beluga Whales Need Your Help!

By Kirsten Massebeau Champions for Cetaceans Daily Scoop

A Beluga Whale at the Georgia Aquarium

Ric O’Barry of The Dolphin Project has made a call to action for beluga whales, the white dolphins:

The Georgia Aquarium is proposing to import EIGHTEEN wild belugas, caught in the wild in Russia, to distribute to the three SeaWorld parks (Florida, California and Texas), Shedd Aquarium and Mystic Aquarium.

Belugas are the wonderful white dolphins that inhabit the Arctic Ocean.  They are also called the “sea canary” for their high-pitched whistles underwater, part of their communication and sonar.  Like all such dolphins, they live in close family groups.

Russia is becoming a bigger and bigger exporter of wild cetaceans as countries around the world shut down the blood dolphin$ trade.  Belugas are chased by boats and netted, ripping them from their freedom and their families, the two most important things in their lives.

Georgian Aquarium claims the imports are “for public display to enhance the North American beluga breeding cooperative by increasing the population base of captive belugas to a self‐sustaining level and to promote conservation and education.”

But there is no reason to breed belugas in captivity except to put more on display.  And the education and conservation benefits of displays of these and other dolphins in public are nonexistent.

This is a rip-off of the public trust by aquariums seeking income from rare species to populate their small tanks.


The US National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible for issuing the permits to import and hold any cetacean in aquariums in the United States.  Your voice is needed to help save these eighteen beleaguered belugas.Deadline for Comments is October 29th, 2012″.(Read the entire article here) You can submit you comments to NOAA here. The article written by Ric O’Barry includes NOAA-NMFS addresses,phone numbers, and all the reasons why dolphins do not belong in captivity.

A Captive Beluga

Join The Dolphin Project with Ric O’Barry Here.

Join Champions for Cetaceans and our friends at Save The Blood Dolphins on Facebook for current dolphin issues and news everyday.


B P Makes Bid for Arctic Oil

By Kirsten Massebeau

BP's Proposed Area for Seismic Testing
BP is right on the heels of Shell Oil in the race for oil in the Fragile Arctic region. Shell  has been given permits to begin seismic testing and exploration drilling in the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea both to begin on July 1,2012, through October 31, 2012. British Petroleum (BP) is also requesting a permit to begin a seismic survey in the fragile Simpson Lagoon in the Beaufort Sea a small and pristine habitat teeming with life. BP is known for their environmental disaster in the Gulf Coast  that is still suffering from the spill, “Dolphins and fish are dying at distressing rates as oil and dispersants from BP’s 2010 spill lurk in Gulf waters and south Louisiana marshes”source.

If BP is awarded this permit both Shell Oil and BP will be doing seismic surveys during the same period in the Beaufort Sea for and estimated 50 days. Two of BP’s  ships will be firing air guns 24 hours 24 a day at dB levels of  >160dB sometimes creating blasts as high as 230dB  flooding the shallow Simpson Lagoon and Barrier Islands with sound for several months Source.  

What is a seismic survey? “Seismic surveys are used to locate and estimate the size of offshore oil and gas reserves. To carry out such surveys, ships tow multiple air gun arrays that emit thousands of high-decibel explosive impulses to map the sea floor. The auditory assault from seismic surveys has been found to damage or kill fish eggs and larvae and to impair the hearing and health of fish and marine mammals, making them vulnerable to predators and leaving them unable to locate prey or mates or communicate with each other. These disturbances can disrupt and displace important migratory patterns, pushing marine life away from suitable habitats like nurseries and foraging, mating, spawning, and migratory corridors. In addition, seismic surveys have been implicated in whale beaching and stranding incidents” source. “The source level of most air gun arrays can be 200dB or higher. For comparison, a loud rock concert is about 115dB and a jet engine at 100 feet is about 140dB. A typical seismic air gun array pulled by a ship might fire its compressed air bubbles into the ocean five or six times a minute — more than 7,000 shots in 24 hours”source. To see an air-gun underwater explosion click on  this link .

Imagine the damage the air guns will do to a shallow fragile, coastal environment of the Simpson Lagoon, “The survey area in Simpson Lagoon has water depths of 0 to 9 ft between the shore and barrier islands and 3 to 45 ft depths north of the barrier islands”source.

BP plans to use three seismic ships that will carry a total of 40 air guns some of which will  fire simultaneously for 24 hours a day. “Again, the advantage of source vessels alternating shots is that more data can be acquired in shorter time. Seismic data acquisition is a 24 hour per day operation”source.

How many cetaceans and pinniped is BP asking to expose to greater than 160dB of sound? These number are for the Simpson Lagoon area not including the barrier islands. To see incidental take number for barrier islands follow this link. In addition,  what will happen to the algae, phytoplankton, krill, fish, squid and other diverse marine life of this Arctic region? Home to Bow head, Beluga and gray whales this is an area so sensitive that no commercial fishing has been allowed under National Marine Fisheries Ruling established in 2009 source. When so little is known about the sea life and eco-system  in this remote part of the world is it really prudent to open it up to oil and gas exploration? There are few protections for even dolphins and whales protected marine mammals. Marine Mammals Observers (MMO) are stationed two to a ship watching for whales. This crude form of monitoring does not take into account underwater activities of cetaceans and other sea life. There is little known about  Simpson Lagoon and Barrier Islands, “Information on fishes in coastal waters of the Alaskan Arctic is outdated or nonexistent” source.

Is the risk of an oil spill worth it? Isn’t the death of just one whale from air guns or an oil spill too much? Isn’t the death and destruction of the algae, and other nutrients and low level life on the ocean floor too much? Isn’t allowing BP to do seismic testing or any kind of oil exploration in the Arctic Beaufort Sea asking too much?

What can you do? Send NOAA/NMFS an email asking  not to award BP the permit for a seismic survey in the Beaufort Ocean. Comments and information must be received no later than May 31, 2012. Comments should be addressed to: Tammy Adams, Acting Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National MarineFisheries Service or 1315 East-WestHighway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. The mailbox address for providing email comments is  source.