The turtle washed up on the beach on June 4, Weerapong Laovechprasit, a veterinarian at the Eastern Marine and Coastal Resource Research and Development Centre told AFP.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
February 22 is the birthday of conservationist and beloved TV personality "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, who would have been 57 years old today.
Irwin's life was tragically cut short when the barb from a stingray went through his chest while he was filming in 2006, but his legacy of loving and protecting wildlife lives on, most recently in a Google Doodle today honoring his birthday.
Rescue efforts are underway after a pod of whales beached Monday morning off the province of Aceh in Indonesia.
As part of its ongoing Operation Bloody Fjords campaign, the ocean conservation group sent a crew of volunteers posing as tourists to six different Faroese towns covering 19 designated whaling bays with the aim of "[exposing] the continued barbaric killing of dolphins and pilot whales," campaign leader and Sea Shepherd UK Director Robert Read said.
More than 500 volunteers flocked to a remote bay in New Zealand in response to a devastating mass stranding of pilot whales.
Around 416 pilot whales beached near the base of Farewell Spit in Golden Bay overnight, of which 250 to 300 were already dead when the whales were discovered, the Department of Conservation announced in a Feb. 10 media release.
A witness told The Washington Post that the whales were "crying and sighing" as they lay stranded on the beach.
Hundreds of pilot whales have been stranded on a beach in New Zealand and most have died https://t.co/bP8WtC58jL— Sky News (@Sky News)1486728261.0
Friday's incident was the third largest whale stranding ever recorded in New Zealand and the largest known whale stranding in the country since 1985, when 450 were stranded in Auckland, Reuters reported.
Rescuers tried to refloat the remaining cetaceans during high tide on Friday morning but only had partial success. Around 50 whales had swum out of the bay but 80 to 90 had re-stranded on the beach by the afternoon.
Andrew Lamason, Department of Conservation operations manager for Golden Bay, told The Guardian it was common for whales involved in a mass stranding to re-beach themselves because they are very social animals who like to stay in close proximity to their pod.
"We are trying to swim the whales out to sea and guide them but they don't really take directions, they go where they want to go. Unless they get a couple of strong leaders who decide to head out to sea, the remaining whales will try and keep with their pod on the beach," he said.
The rescue team has been pouring water over the re-stranded whales to try and keep them cool before floating them out at the next high tide. Children also sang songs to keep the creatures calm.
"I've never seen anything like this," a volunteer named Petra Dubois told Stuff.co.nz. "It's just so unbelievably sad to see all these bodies; so many lives gone and so many that might not survive. Just so devastating, I really don't know what to say."
Lamason explained to The Guardian that many volunteers were working around the clock in chilly temperatures and mentally traumatic conditions.
"It is cold, it's wet and some of us have been in and out of the water for nine hours now. We can only cope with robust volunteers, not ones that are going to break down, which happens quite often," he said.
According to RadioNZ, the effort to refloat the remaining 80 to 90 whales will resume Saturday. The whales will be kept comfortable and can survive for several days as long as they are kept cool and wet.
The cause of the stranding is unclear. However, Lamason said that the bay was prone to mass strandings due to the area's shallow waters that can confuse the mammals' sonar and find it difficult to get back out.
Cape Farewell is a headland in New Zealand 400 pilot whales who have become stranded at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay. https://t.co/6CEaCwe6Qo— Tony (@Tony)1486679071.0
Still, the latest event came as "a shock," Project Jonah manager Darren Grover told Reuters.
In an interview with RadioNZ, Otago University zoologist Liz Slooten ruled out seismic blasting as a cause since the last survey in the area was done nearly a week ago. The blasting of seismic testing can potentially disorientate whales.
She added that the cause of the latest mysterious stranding may never be known.
According to Project Jonah, "strandings are complex events and there are many reasons why dolphins and whales may strand. In most cases the exact cause is unknown but any one of the following factors, or a combination of them, can be the cause."
Pilot whales are not considered to be endangered even though they are depleted in some areas. The American Cetacean Society stated, "There are likely to be almost a million long-finned pilot whales and at least 200,000 short-finned pilot whales worldwide."
Oceana filed a lawsuit in federal court in California late Wednesday challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have protected endangered species, including whales and sea turtles, and taken an important step forward in efforts to clean up one of the nation's dirtiest fisheries—drift gillnets targeting swordfish off California. The rule would have required an immediate closure of the fishery if limits on the injury or death of nine protected species were reached.
The new federal administration withdrew a proposed rule Monday that would have protected endangered species—including whales, dolphins and sea turtles—caught and killed in the drift gillnet fishery targeting swordfish off California. Monday's decision demonstrates the administration's blatant disregard for recommendations of its own fishery advisors and reverses course on commitments made by the previous administration.
By Jason Bittel
Waves lap at motionless heaps of blubber and fins and the sun bears down on chapped skin. Gulls start to, well, do what gulls do. This heartbreaking scene happened in January when nearly 100 false killer whales became stranded along a remote shore in the Florida Everglades.
Dozens of pilot whales came ashore in Probolinggo, East Java province, Indonesia, in a mass stranding event.
Thirty-two short-finned pilot whales beached themselves during high tide Wednesday, according to The Guardian. Fishermen and officials were able to save 24 of them, but eight returned to shore overnight and died.
Photo credit: Marine Connection
Hundreds of rescuers used multiple methods to get the whales back into the ocean. Fishermen and officials wrapped tarps around the whales and pulled them back out to sea. Swimmers jumped into the water to scare off whales that weren't already beached. Some disoriented whales were even escorted with boats to ensure they didn't end up back on shore.
“At first there were just one or two whales swimming near the shore, and the nature of whales is that if they are sick they will come near the shore," Dedy Isfandi, the head of the local maritime and fisheries office, said.
“But whales have such high social interaction—when one fell ill, they approached the sick one to swim back to sea ... when the tide fell all of them were trapped."
Dozens of pilot whales stranded in #Indonesia, 8 dead https://t.co/cGvUO5ymFf https://t.co/hSQZLFByja— The Straits Times (@The Straits Times)1466060203.0
Vets and scientists are conducting autopsies on the animals to figure out why they stranded themselves, The Guardian said. Some officials said turbulent waters in the Indian Ocean or consuming something poisonous could be the cause.
Short-finned pilot whales are part of the oceanic dolphin family, though their behavior is closer to that of whales. Adult males can reach 18-feet in length; females can be 12-feet long. This whale species also has a long life expectancy with males and females living up to 45 and 60 years, respectively.
The primary habitat for short-finned pilot whales is warm, tropical waters. Populations can be found all over the world. There is not enough data to determine their conservation status.
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