Pygmy Sperm Whale Stranding In Galveston—Every News Story Gives You The Opportunity To Learn More And To Take Action
A Pygmy Sperm Whale washed up on the beach in Galveston early on Wednesday.
Above you see a Houston Chronicle picture of the incident.
“A vacationer from Dallas and his 11-year-old daughter discovered a pygmy sperm whale thrashing about in the surf Wednesday morning on the West End. The Marine Mammal Stranding Network came to Shores Drive and FM 3005 shortly after 9 a.m. and placed a stretcher under the whale and lifted it into a rescue truck. The animal was breathing and its eyes were open. It was taken to a holding tank at the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.”
Unfortunately, the whale has since been euthanized.
The article I link to above does not assert that these dolphin deaths have been caused by the BP oil disaster. It does say though that this is possible and tests are being done to determine the facts.
From The Huffington Post–
“Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist’s video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012. At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn’t.”
Here is the web page for Dr. Samantha Joye. Dr. Joye led the study about the oil at the bottom of the gulf.
The impact of the BP spill may not be as bad as some first feared. But it appears to be bad enough.
The government, academic researchers, the press, and groups such as Greenpeace should keep monitoring conditions in the Gulf.
(Below–A picture of the oil-covered bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that sea worms of some kind do well in oil. Here is a previous post I’ve written here about sea worms.)
Every news story offers the chance to learn more than we know at the moment. It is up to each of us to learn about the world. When we learn more, then we are more likely to take action to improve the world.
A great book on marine mammals is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals of the World. (Books remain the strongest source on many issues and subjects. Please consider getting off the computer and reading a book.)
Here are some basic facts about the Gulf of Mexico. This site I link to here, Gulfbase.org, has far more than just basics if you would like to know more.
A useful book on the coast in and around Galveston is The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast by John Anderson. This book, published by Texas A & M, has scientific value while also being accessible.
I cannot stress this fact enough—It is up to the individual to learn about the world and to take action to improve the world.
You may well decide to take that action in concrt with others. But at core—You must decide yourself to be involved.
Blogger’s Note—This post has been newly organized and is now being updated at this link. Please visit the new post and thank you for reading Texas Liberal.
(Blogger’s Note–This post is updated through today June 24. If you take the time to get all the way to the end, there are all sorts of links with the latest news and larger issues of just why an oil spill is so bad and the history of other major spills. As you read down the list of updates, you’ll be able to see some of the events as they unfolded. I imagine most of the update links are still good so you can also read the stories that have been the lead-up to the events of the present time. )
Here is a blog post with facts and updates on the BP/Transocean Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
(Above–The spill from space.)
(Update-4/30/10–The first of the oil may have reached the Louisiana Gulf coast.)
(Update 5/1/10–Commercial fishers in Louisiana are concerned.)
(Update 5/1/10–President Obama will be visiting the Gulf to see the spill.)
(Update 5/2/10–The BBC has a number of reports on the spill. This provides some sense on how the rest of the world sees what is taking place.)
From this report—
Q: Has anyone gotten sick from the oil spilled in the Gulf?
A: Yes, there have been reports of illnesses, but relatively few among people not involved in the spill cleanup. Most of the reported illnesses were related to odors or fumes. Almost all were mild and temporary, and many were in early May, within the first few weeks of the April 20 explosion. The reports are based on a doctor’s assessment, not on lab testing. All but 35 of the 109 spill-related illnesses in Louisiana have been workers; Alabama has 27 reports of illnesses, and Florida and Mississippi have had none.
This June 11 NY Times column says that it is not enough to boycott BP stations of you want to hurt BP. What you would really have to do is use less oil.
With the spill now said to be bigger than the Exxon Valdez disaster, here are many facts about the Exxon Valdez.
The spill has impacted Native Americans living in Louisiana. Native Americans in Louisiana have long felt screwed-over by oil companies.
Here is a report on a question many have wondered about—With all this oil in the Gulf, what will happen if there is a big hurricane?
(Below—Efforts in the gulf to contain the oil. That ship looks a bit outmatched.)
Hurricane season does not start for a month, yet here is a threat moving towards the Gulf coast.
Here is an essay from the Nature Conservancy about Gulf Coast prairies and marshes. This is an area that may be hit by the advancing oil.
Here is the web home of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. This are folks who want to be able to go out and fish for shrimp and who want you to be willing to buy shrimp.
Here the web page of WKRG-TV in New Orleans. WKRG has a running meter of the estimated oil that has gone into the ocean.
(Below–Many people are not pleased with BP.)
( Below—A controlled burn of the oil.)
(Update 5/2/10–BP has held a press conference discussing the spill.)
( Below—Oil washing up on the Louisiana coast on May 8.)
Burning the oil to make it go away is part of the response to the spill. Here is an article from the Mobile Press-Regster about what burning could accomplish and expressing the view that the burning should have started earlier than it did.
The spill began when an offshore oil rig exploded and sank. 11 people were killed in this disaster. The name of the rig was the Deepwater Horizon rig. The rig was leased by BP.
( Update 5/4/10–It may still be three days before oil hits the Gulf coast.)
The firm that owned the rig was Transocean. Here is the statement by Transocean about the explosion.
There is a joint response web site which is being run by the both the companies and the federal agencies involved in cleaning up the oil. There is a lot of information at this site.
Here is a law firm that would like to file a suit on your behalf if you feel you’ve been impacted by the spill. It seems that this firm specializes in such cases.
(Update 5/5/10–Here is a report on damage to the underwater environment.)
From the Novi site, here is how oil covered sea otters are cleaned—
“When sea otters are taken to a cleaning facility, the heavy oiled otters will be washed first. Workers will wash the otters with warm water because they hope it will break down the oil. The warm water also can warm the otters up. The otters also will get medical treatment while they are being cleaned. The otters will then have to wait so they can dry.”
(Update 5/8/10—Efforts to place a big dome over the spill are not going so well.)
(Update–5/11/10—The first hearings have been held. Shocker–Nobody said they were at fault.)
(Update 5/12-10–BP thinks they may have a solution to the ongoing leak. There is also a video in this report of the oil gushing into the sea.)
(Update 5/13/10—Tar balls are beginning to show up on the Gulf coast.)
(Update 5/13/10–-The President of BP, Tony Hayward, says his job is on the line over the spill. No kidding.)
(Update 5/13/10—Criminal charges are being considered for this disaster.)
(Below–One bird that could suffer losses from the oil is the Brown Pelican. You see that this pelican has already taken a severe hit.)
(Update 5/15/10–Some accuse BP of using the Gulf as a “Toxic Testing Ground.”)
(Update 5/16/10–Large amounts of oil are being found underwater.)
(Update 5/16/10–Tourism at some Gulf of Mexico beaches has begun to suffer.)
(Update 5/17/10—The oil may soon be headed up the Atlantic coast.)
(Update 5/17/10–Here is the latest on BP’s efforts to stop the spill.)
(Update 5/17/10–President Obama will be setting up a panel to investigate the spill. )
(Update 5/18/10–-BP says they have spent $625 million cleaning up the spill. I guess they will be passing that on to consumers.)
(Update 5/18/10-–Here are four videos of the leak under the sea.)
(Update 5/19/10—The American Veterinary Medicine Association says responders are ready to deal with wildlife harmed by oil. Though to this point there have few animals found that have impacted.)
(Update 5/20/10—Self-regulating oil companies are the norm around the world.)
(Update 5/20/10—Here are where things stand as of noon Central Time.)
(Update 5/21/10–BP denies covering up the extent of the spill.)
(Update 5/22/10–Here is the latest forecast for where the oil is headed.)
While it is clear enough that an oil spill is bad for the marine environment, the effects of oil in ocean are specific beyond the basic fact that such a spill is bad.
The web site Green living tips, written in Australia, has some of the specifics on the harmful impacts of an oil spill.
(Below–Tarballs washing up on the Louisiana coast on May 14. They do not look very nice.)
From the Green Living facts –
“When oil is spilled in waterways, it spreads very quickly with the help of wind and currents. …When oil starts mixing in water, it can change composition and becomes what’s known as “mousse”. This is a sticky substance that clings even more to whatever it comes in contact with. Many marine animals don’t know to avoid a slick and some fish may even be attracted to it as it can resemble food.”
(Update 5/23/10 --Where the spill stands as of the morning of the 23rd.)
(Update 5/23/10—Folks are mad in Louisiana. Though I wonder how many of these folks drive gas-guzzling SUV’s and broke the laws about proper fishing from their fishing boats.)
(Update 5/24/10—Here is the latest. The oil is still belching into the ocean and the costs of the cleanup keep rising.)
(Update 5/24/10–Most Texans say they still support offshore drilling on the Gulf. I imagine they do support that rather than giving up the big trucks.)
(Update 5/25/10—There is disagreement in the Senate over to what extent BP should be liable for the spill. Republicans want to limit how much BP should have to pay.)
(Update 5/26/10—President Obama will hold a news conference on tomorrow. Here are five questions about the government’s handling of the spill that a Washington Post reporter thinks should be asked of the President.)
(Update 5/26/10—People are still staying at Gulf Coast hotels.)
(Update 5/26/10—Here is a report on the Top Kill as of 10 PM CDT.)
(Update 5/27/10–The Coast Guard says that Top Kill is working.)
(Update 5/29/10–25% of the Gulf of Mexico is now closed to fishing.)
(Update 5/30/10–It may not be until August before the oil stops gushing.)
(Update 5/30/10—The White House is becoming more confrontational with BP.)
(Update 5/31/10–-Here is a review from CNN of where things stand at the moment.)
(Update 6/2/10—Prices of BP shares continue to decline. )
( Update 6/2/10--The oil is advancing on Pensacola, Florida.)
(Update 6/3/10—A new permit has been allowed for offshore drilling within 50 miles of the Louisiana coast. This is a bit difficult for me to understand given the events of the moment.)
(Update 6/4/10—They are getting ready for the oil in Florida.)
(Update 6/4/10–Laura Bush says President Obama should not be blamed for the spill.)
(Update 6/5/10–President Obama made his weekly five-minute address form the Louisiana coast. You can watch the speech from this Voice of America link. )
(Update 6/6/10—The President of BP says he will not quit over the spill.)
(Update 6/7/10–Time magazine asks if the oil could reach Europe.)
(Update 6/7/10—This analyst says that the future of BP may be in doubt.)
( Update 6/7/10–People are concerned about the possible health effects of the oil spill. But these effects may not as bad as feared. )
(Update 6/8/10–-President Obama says the BP CEO should be fired.)
(Update 6/9/10–BP share prices are at the lowest point in 14 years.)
(Update 6/11/10—British Prime Minister David Cameron will be discussing BP with President Obama tomorrow. There is pressure in Britain for the Prime Minister to defend BP)
(Update 6/11/10–Plans to burn the oil are raising health concerns.)
(Update 6/12//10–The price of shrimp is likely to rise.)
(Update 6/13/10—Some Folks in Britain feel they are being bashed.)
(Update 6/13/10—BP is putting some sensors around the leak to get a better sense of how much oil is being spewed. I’m glad they could finally get around to that.)
(Update 6/16/10–This BBC report is about small coastal communities in Alabama dealing with the spill. The Mayor of one of these towns says domestic violence is up in his town as people face job losses.)
(Update 6/17/10—Here is the video of the heckler removed the Tony Hayward testimony.)
(Update 6/20/10-–BP had reason before the spill to know that the impact of an incident such as this could be very severe. It does make seem to make the case that BP lied at first about how much oil was leaking.)
(Update 6/21/10–Here is a story that attempts to illustrate how much oil has spewed into the sea. From this story– “More not-so-dreadful context: The amount of oil spilled so far could only fill the cavernous New Orleans Superdome about one-seventh of the way up. On the other hand, it could fill 15 Washington Monuments. If the oil were poured on a football field — complete with endzones — it would measure nearly 100 yards high.There have been many large oil spills in the past.”)
(Update 6/23/10—Republicans will not demote Congressman Joe Barton from his high committee post for his apologizing to BP. If Republicans gain control of the House in 2010, Mr. Barton will be the main person in Houser on oil industry issues.)
(Update 6/23/10–Here is the latest on the spill as of the afternoon of June 23.)
(Update 6/24/10–Here is the latest as of the morning of June 24.)
(Below–Growing up in New England, I recall the sinking of the tanker Argo Merchant off the coast of Massachusetts.)
While many look to learn about an issue when there is a big story in the news, it is always the right time to learn.
(Below–Mississippi River Delta without any oil cover.)
Here are the reasons I watch the movie Jaws each summer.
1. I think it would be nice to spend a summer in Long Island at some beach town.
2. I like looking at the ocean.
3. I like movies that involve sea creatures because I like sea creatures. Here is a recent press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about a program to restore the population of Blacknose Sharks. NOAA has great press releases about all sorts of ocean-related topics.
(Above–A Blacknose Shark. Here are some facts about Blacknose Sharks from the Florida Museum of Natural History.)
4. Because I’d rather see the movie many times than read the book again. I read Jaws by Peter Benchley a few years back. I figured that I would for once in my life read some mass-market beach-read type of book.
The book was awful. It was silly. There was some sort of plot line involving the mob or something like that. The book was not nearly as good as most of the novels I normally read.
Call me a snob—I don’t care. I’ll call you back something in reply.
Here is an obituary of Peter Benchley. Sure he was a global best-selling author—But did he ever have a blog?
From the obit—
“It was while working as a freelance writer that he was invited to lunch by Tom Congdon, an editor at Doubleday, who asked if he had any ideas for a novel. In fact, he had. As he later described it, he said, “I’ve been thinking about a novel about a great white shark that appears off a Long Island resort and afflicts it.” The idea came from a news article he had read about a fisherman who caught a 4,500-pound great white shark off Long Island in 1964. Having spent many hours fishing off Nantucket with his father, he knew of sharks, and he believed he knew how to tell a story.”
5. I like the part where the local Chamber of Commerce tells the police chief to keep the beaches open despite the shark attacks. The private sector is always making up some sort of story.
There have been a number of attacks on people by Humboldt Squid off the coast of California.
(Above–A Humboldt Squid. It hates you.)
From the Telegraph—
“The 5ft long creatures which can grow up to 100 pounds have been targeting scuba divers, yanking their cameras and clinging onto their wetsuits. The huge shoals of Humboldt squid have chased many veteran divers out of the water and are nicknamed el diablo rojo or red devils – for their rust-red colouring and aggressive behaviour. I wouldn’t go into the water with them for the same reason I wouldn’t walk into a pride of lions on the Serengeti,” said Mike Bear, a local diver. “For all I know, I’m missing the experience of a lifetime.”
It’s not surprising that sea creatures or any kind of creature would want to attack a human being. Human beings make the Earth a kind of hell for animals.
From the Institute–
“There is little doubt left in the minds of professional biologists that Earth is currently faced with a mounting loss of species that threatens to rival the five great mass extinctions of the geological past. As long ago as 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year — which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that this biodiversity crisis — this “Sixth Extinction” — is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had supposed.“
Look at this guy below with all those squid in his boat. That boat is a hell for squid.
“Also referred to as the jumbo squid, the Humboldt is one you do want to recognize. They aren’t as long as you would think with a name like that though. They only get to be about 7 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. They grow extremely fast though so those new offspring can get very large in a matter of months as long as they have enough food to nourish their bodies….They have the ability to change their colors from shades of red to shades of purple and then white as well. Some people used to believe this was for hiding but it is now believed it is for communication purposes. Due to the different colors the Humboldt squid is often misidentified.”
I eat meat. I’ve eaten squid. Animals eat animals. But there is a big difference between eating what you need to live, and the way human beings treat animals and treat the Earth. Given how we treat each other, is it little surprise that we abuse every creature and every aspect of nature that we possibly can.
I think it is time for animals to wise up and start hitting back.
Captive Dolphin Is Named Liberty—If You Go To These Shows, Please At Least Learn Something About Dolphins And The Ocean
The dolphin you see above is named “Liberty.”
It should be named “Prisoner” because it is in dolphin jail.
This dolphin prisoner lives at the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Park in Vallejo, California.
The dolphin is called Liberty because it was born on the Fourth of July.
Liberty, as seen in an Associated Press picture, was forced to do tricks on the Fourth of July for people visiting the park.
Even though it lives its life in a tank, the dolphin is called Liberty as if it were free and swimming around in the ocean.
These shows would bug me less if I had any sense that they made people care about the creatures they see, or care about the health of the oceans.
I think people come and gawk at the dolphins and the Shamus and move on to some other thought as soon as they leave the park.
I know these shows are not going away, but if take your kids, or go on your own, please take some time to learn about what you are seeing.
Here are a number of questions about oceans answered by the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There is a lot of information to be found at this site.
Here is a Christian Science Monitor blog post about overfishing and that has a number of links to other sources on the topic. The fish you are eating may be on the verge of going away for good.
The Empty Ocean by Richard Ellis is a very good book about overfishing that I have read.
Below is a picture of a Bottlenose Dolphin in the ocean I’m going to name “Captive.”
The National Audubon Society Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World is a top rate book.
My in-laws are in town and I’m busy being a good son-in-law. This post will just be some notes. Still—even on busy days— I make time for the blog reading public.
At the Houston Museum of Fine Arts yesterday I got a reminder of why I disliked school so much. Some kids, maybe fifth or sixth grade, were on a field trip to the museum. They were touring the galleries. The chaperons were repeatedly telling the kids not to speak. I’m not sure if the adults were teachers or parents. Though it makes little difference. (Above— One room school in Alabama 1935.)
Why not instruct the kids to offer reactions to what they were seeing? Why not ask questions of the kids? Why not tell the kids to talk to each other about what they were seeing? Other visitors to the museum were speaking in the galleries. If the adults did not feel they could control the kids, then they should not have been leading the trip.
I can remember field trips like that when I was in school in Providence, Rhode Island. We’d go to the Boston Science Museum or the Boston Aquarium–over and over we would go to those places—and get no input from our teachers about what we were seeing. The high point of the day would be the visit to the gift shop. It was just a day to screw around.
If you have kids, maybe you could tell them to listen to teachers who have something to say, and tune out the others. There is possibly nothing at all wrong with a kid who does not like school and who is wary of his or her teachers. Maybe the only thing wrong with that kid is that he or she is smarter than the teachers and the other kids.
The first paragraph of the book, as far as I’ve read so far, talks about contemporary art as more widely popular than was art before World War II. I would imagine that this wider popularity comes with the usual trade off a bigger public following against a more uncertain level of quality. Depending on my mood, I’m generally in favor of the wider public acceptance. People can make the effort to find the good stuff if it matters to them enough.
I read yesterday that fishermen in the Philippines caught a very rare Megamouth Shark and went on to eat it even though they were asked not to eat the creature. Below you see a picture of a Megamouth Shark. The picture was taken by a Tom Haight. Here is some very good information about this sea beast from the Florida Museum of Natural History. It says that Sperm Whales have been known to attack this type of shark. I’d sure like to put film of that taking place on the blog.
Time now to go pick up my in-laws and go to the deli to pick up the food for Passover.
Above is the giant sea worm that has been caught at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Great Britain.
I did not have any idea that a creature such as this existed on the Earth.
The sea worm was in a tank at the aquarium eating other creatures. Officials at the aquarium did not know that the creature was in the tank until the trouble started and the tank was searched.
Here is a story on the worm. There is also a gallery of pictures you can click of giant sea creatures at the link.
I don’t like looking at that creature and it would scare me if I saw it in my bathtub or sink. Yet if it did appear in one of those places I could take a picture of it and blog traffic would spike for a few days from the novelty.
I know it’s possible you’ve come here off a search engine link about giant sea worms, and I’m glad you have, but there is a lot to know about the oceans than just strange creatures. Here is a good and accessible link to learn more about the oceans. I have a great deal of confidence in the ability of average folks to learn things and it would be great if you’d check out this link or do some looking on your own about the oceans and different types of sea life.
Killer Whales have been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.
Below is a picture of killer whales seen in the Gulf of Mexico. Behind them you seen an oil rig which is pretty good evidence that you are looking at the Gulf of Mexico.
Here is a link to YouTube video footage of killer whales in Texas waters.
Below is from the Houston Chronicle story on the killer whales—
“Scientists say orcas have been in the Gulf for years but are rarely seen because they live far from shore and beyond the typical range of commercial fishermen. Still, a recent sighting of killer whales 95 miles off the Alabama coast has captivated those who work and play in the warm waters of the Gulf. “It was like being at Sea World because they’d come right up to the boat,” said Eddie Hall, captain of the Shady Lady, the charter boat that spotted as many as 200 orcas feeding on tuna. Hall recorded the close encounter on video, and the National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed that they were, indeed, killer whales. Tony Amos, a researcher with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, said confirmed sightings of orcas in the Gulf date back to at least 1985.”
The guy in the Chronicle story said that it was just like Sea World. Yes–It was just like Sea World except that the whales were free and not in a kind of sea jail in the form of a (sort of ) big tank.
A killer whale is not a whale. It is a kind of dolphin. It is a very big killer dolphin. Its presence in the Gulf is not so much a surprise when you consider that it is the most widespread of any whale or dolphin. Here is some discussion of the differences between whales and dolphins.
Killer Whales can grow up to 30 feet long and live up to 90 years. Female killer whales can hang on for 80 to 90 years while males make it between 50 and 60.
A great book on marine mammals is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals of the World. (Books remain the stronger source on very many issues and questions than what you are able to find on the internet. Please consider getting off the computer and reading a book.)
Here is a bit of what the Audubon Guide says about killer whales—
“The world population of killer whales seems to consist of specialized subpopulation, each adapted to live off the resources available within its home range. In this sense killer whales are much like wolves.”
A book I don’t own but that maybe someday I will is The Marine Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico.
There are many types of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. Please click here for a list of such creatures.
The American Cetacean Society is a good on-line reference for marine mammals. You can find killer whale information at the ACS.
Here is the first Texas Liberal video. I filmed it on Galveston’s East Beach a few days ago. It is just under 2 minutes long.
The video explains why I am making videos for the blog. The video expresses the idea that I have confidence in you because of the things that you and I have in common.
Not in the video is the rotting dolphin carcass that was about 30 feet away from where I was standing. At first look, people thought it was a seal carcass. Don’t folks know that the only seal ever to come near Galveston was the now-extinct Caribbean Monk Seal? (Below) This was the only seal native to the Gulf of Mexico.
Why do you think that people must drive big pickups onto the beach and motor around in circles? I’d like people to please know that I kept my eye on the camera despite these trucks, the dolphin carcass, the many bulldozers replenishing the beach with sand after last year’s Hurricane Ike, and people feeding seagulls out of moving cars as the seagulls followed the cars in noisy flocks.
Thank you for reading this blog and for watching the video.
The following is from a series of articles about the oceans prepared by The Economist magazine—
“Perhaps the most grotesque form of fish farming is the ranching of bluefin tuna, a delicacy that may sell for as much as $860 a kilo. Bluefins are sensitive creatures that hate being cooped up so much that, if confined, they tend to throw themselves against their cages and break their necks. Australian “ranchers” have now adopted a technique that involves catching young bluefins, enveloping them in a huge net and dragging it slowly round the south seas for months while feeding them pilchards imported from west Africa.”
I eat tuna and I don’t ask many questions about how it reaches my plate. But is this how we want to proceed? We’ve overfished the seas and now this is how we are getting our fish to eat. How can this be sustainable? We’re seeing in our economy what happens when we proceed in a way that is not sustainable. How many times do we need to learn (or not learn) the same lessons?
Along with a picture of a fishing boat I took in Corpus Christi, Texas earlier this year, here are some quick Sunday links.
Corpus Christi is a nice place to spend a weekend.
Have a great week ahead and thank you for reading Texas Liberal.
The Supreme Court today heard a case about Navy testing of sonar that may well harm and kill whales and dolphins.
At the moment, these tests off the coast of California are banned by federal court order.
Environmental groups say these sonar blasts sound as loud as a jet engine to whales and dolphins. The Navy says the tests are needed for national security.
Beyond these issues, the core of the matter seems to be whether the a judge can order the Navy to stop the tests because no environmental impact study has been done by the Navy. The case has implications beyond this specific concern.
Why can’t the Navy just do the study?
I think what we should do is extensively test just how the sonar bombardments sound to whales, and then recreate that noise for Naval test subjects. Maybe some in Navy could volunteer unlike the whales who have no choice in the matter. ( Though I bet that not many would volunteer to have their ears blasted out.)The test subjects could then report just how it sounded and we could make a judgement from that point.
This National Geographic story discusses possible harm done to Killer Whales because of Navy sonar tests.
And this National Geographic story says whales can be given the bends by such tests.
A wild dolphin is apparently teaching other members of her group to walk on their tails, a behaviour usually seen only after training in captivity. The tail-walking group lives along the south Australian coast near Adelaide. One of them spent a short time after illness in a dolphinarium 20 years ago and may have picked up the trick there.
Scientists studying the group say tail-walk tuition has not been seen before, and suggest the habit may emerge as a form of “culture” among this group. “We can’t for the life of us work out why they do it,” said Mike Bossley from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), one of the scientists who have been monitoring the group on the Port River estuary. “We’re doing systematic observations now to determine if there’s something that may trigger it, but so far we haven’t found anything,” he told BBC News.
In the 1980s, Billie, one of the females in the group, spent a few weeks in a local dolphinarium recovering from malnutrition and sickness, a consequence of having been trapped in a marina lock. She received no training there, but may have seen others tail-walking.
Now, other females in the group have picked up the habit. It is seen rarely in the wild, and the obvious inference is that they have learned it from Billie. “This indicates that they do learn from each other, which is not a surprise really, but it does also seem that they exhibit elements of what in humans we would call ‘cultural’ behaviour,” said Dr Bossley.
“These are things that groups develop and are passed between individuals and that come to define those groups, such as language or dancing; and it would seem that among the Port River dolphins we may have an incipient tail-walking culture.” The “cultural” transmission of ideas and skills has been documented in apes, while dolphins off the coast of Western Australia are known to teach their young to use sponges as an aid when gathering food.
In an effort to bond with dolphins in Galveston Bay, I’m going to blindfold myself and drive to Galveston using echolocation. Echolocation is one way dolphins find fish in murky waters.
While I don’t have the dolphin anatomy you see in the above illustration, I’ve been practicing some of the skills involved. Just a few weeks ago, I shut my eyes and walked successfully from the dinner table to the couch. At that point I had to open my eyes because I wanted to watch the TV.
Having mastered that walk, I feel I’m now ready for the blindfolded drive to Galveston. I’m hoping at some point to be able to communicate with dolphins. (Please click here for my post on commuincating with zebra mussels.)
Better that I speak to the dolphins— I’m also practicing my sonar clicks— than somebody with a more evil plan.
Once reaching Galveston, I’ll be keeping my eyes open in case I see a mermaid. I’ll have my digital camera because blog traffic would spike if I could get a picture of a mermaid.
I feel a bit like the chamber of commerce folks in Jaws who denied any shark problem, but despite a toxic fish warning for Galveston Bay, Galveston, Texas is still a great place to spend a day.
You don’t have to flee the beach as are the people in the picture. Just be careful what you eat if you go fishing.
Galveston is what it is. A place to take a walk, get lunch, ride the free Bolivar Ferry, learn some history and do some shopping. There is enough to do for at least one day. You could spend the night as well and not run out of stuff to do the next day.
Many people in Houston are snobby about Galveston. Yet I’m not aware of anywhere else in this area you can take a nice walk on the beach. Going in the water is another matter. But I’m scared of the jellyfish anyway, so that does worry me much.
Below is a nice Galveston sunset.