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Equinac

Baby Dolphin Dies After Beachgoers Pull It From Water For Selfies

Not again! A baby dolphin died last Friday in southern Spain after beachgoers took the mammal out of the water and passed it around for photos, according to media reports.

The incident was detailed in several Facebook posts from Equinac, a Spanish marine wildlife conservation group.

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A short-finned pilot whale hangs lifelessly in a California drift gillnet. NOAA

Trump Administration Denies Protection for Endangered Species Killed by Gillnets

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.

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Christian Aslund / Greenpeace

Trump Administration One Step Closer to Approving Seismic Airgun Blasting

The Trump administration issued Monday a draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for seismic airgun blasting in the Atlantic Ocean, an extremely loud and dangerous process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean's surface. By issuing these draft Incidental Harassment Authorizations for public comment, Oceana said the federal government is giving another gift to the oil industry—moving forward with the permitting process that gives geophysical companies permission to harm or disturb marine life in the pursuit of offshore oil.

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Captive dolphins at Marineland Antibes in France. John Clift

France Bans Captive Breeding of Dolphins and Whales While SeaWorld Still Invests in It

By Laura Bridgeman

The French government passed new legislation earlier this month aimed at phasing out all dolphin and whale captivity, a move that reflects growing public awareness and concern over the poor living conditions cetaceans are forced to endure in captivity.

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A volunteer examines a pilot whale during a 2013 mass stranding in the Florida Everglades. Photo credit: Everglades NPS

Noise Pollution Forces Whales and Dolphins From Their Homes

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.

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Watch Sea Shepherd Ship Sail with Megapod of Dolphins

On Feb. 25, while patrolling the waters of the Gulf of California for Operation Milagro III, the M/V Sam Simon sailed through a megapod of dolphins with numbers estimated to be more than 1,000 individuals.

The elation and joy of this sight comes with the realization that many of these dolphins' lives will be cut short due to illegal gill nets. Sea Shepherd will stay in the Gulf of California until we pull out every last illegal gill net, ensuring the safety of the inhabitants who call these waters home.

Animals

Another Baby Dolphin Dies Thanks to Tourist Selfies

By Brianna Acuesta

In an incident that's shockingly similar to what happened one year ago in Argentina, beachgoers pulled a stranded baby dolphin from the water to capture photos of him and take selfies. Unfortunately, the incident resulted in the baby's death, showing that Argentinians did not learning anything from the last time they pulled a baby dolphin from the ocean.

A video that was released this week shows the baby dolphin surrounded by a crowd of people taking photos and videos. The local newspaper, La Nacion, reported that fellow beachgoers said that people had pulled the dolphin from the shallows of the water.

A witness told C5N News, "They let him die. They could have returned him to the ocean, he was breathing, but everyone started taking photos and touching him, saying he was already dead."

A person's first instincts when seeing an animal in need, especially one so young, should be to help them rather than hurt them. Instead of checking to see if the baby had a chance to live, they immediately yanked him from his home and he died while extremely stressed from the situation.

It's unclear if the baby was sick before humans spotted him, which would explain why he found himself stranded, but what's indisputable is that the humans involved inadvertently participated in his death by not helping him.

Last year, beachgoers pulled two baby dolphins out of the water for selfies, resulting in the death of one and people everywhere were outraged. This outrage, apparently, had little to no effect on the people that repeated this sad act all over again.

Humans have the unique ability to feel empathy, but it is their selfish nature that causes them to often forget to help others. In this situation, the humans did not even think to save the allegedly dying dolphin because they were so absorbed in getting the perfect picture for social media. Meanwhile, dogs around the world have made news for spotting dolphins in need and springing into action to help.

Watch the video below to see the baby dolphin.

Reposted with permission from our media associate True Activist.

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82 False Killer Whales Dead in Massive Stranding Off Everglades National Park

Ninety-five false killer whales were stranded off the coast of Hog Key in Florida's Everglades National Park over the weekend.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wrote in a Facebook post this morning that 82 animals are now confirmed dead and 13 are unaccounted for. Earlier reports put the death toll at 81.

Officials told the Miami Herald that this is the largest recorded stranding of such species in Florida.

False killer whales belong to the dolphin family and get their name due to their resemblance to orcas. Females reach lengths of 15 feet and males are almost 20 feet. Adult false killer whales can weigh approximately 1,500 pounds.

The U.S Coast Guard first spotted the stranding on Saturday near Hog Key, which is located in a dense network of islands off south west Florida.

According to the Palm Beach Post, a rescue team reached the false killer whales—which included adults, juveniles and calves—by Sunday but could not save the vast majority of them.

"Once on the scene, the response team attempted to herd the whales into deeper water, however, they were ultimately unsuccessful in that effort," NOAA's mammal stranding network Blair Mase explained to the publication.

Mase said that the false killer whales were beached and scattered along the shoreline in poor condition and "deeply embedded in the mangroves," making the effort to rescue them nearly impossible. Rescuers had to humanely euthanize nine of the animals. Seventy-two of the dolphins died on their own on Sunday.

NOAA said that response teams are now working to assess the scene, but its remote location makes it challenging to gain access. The National Park Service is conducting aerial flyovers to help make it easier for the response teams to enter the area by boat.

It is currently unclear why the massive stranding occurred. In the coming months, biologists will conduct necropsies to determine what exactly happened, NOAA said.

Local marine biologist Stefanie Wolf told FOX 4 Now that one theory behind the stranding could be due to the pod getting lost and entangled in the area's thick maze of mangroves.

"Down in that area of Everglades National Park it's very shallow—very easily for even a human to get lost navigating through those waters," Wolf said, adding that the pod might not have been able to use their echolocation to find their way around.

As the FOX 4 reporter noted, while strandings are rare, when they do happen they usually happen in large groups because the dolphins are social animals.

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U.S. Navy-Trained Dolphins to Round Up Nearly Extinct Vaquita in Controversial Plan

A controversial, last-ditch plan to round up the last remaining vaquitas—a critically endangered porpoise found only in the Sea of Cortez—may get underway this spring with the aid of U.S. Navy-trained bottlenose dolphins. The vaquitas would be placed in a protected enclosure while efforts are made to get illegal fishing in the area under control.

The population of these small porpoises has reached the point where they face imminent extinction. A report by marine conservationists issued in May 2016 estimated that less than 60 vaquitas remain.

Their numbers have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years. There were 567 individuals in 1997, 245 in 2008 and just under 100 in 2014. The report puts a high probability on extinction within five years.

Vaquita refuge established in 2005 where gillnet fishing is prohibited.National Geographic

The Mexican government has been working with local fishermen to save the species. In 2005, Mexico established a refuge off San Felipe in the Gulf of California. Gillnet fishing was banned in the refuge. The government is spending $74 million to compensate fishermen and encourage them to use safer fishing methods.

For a time, it worked. Although the population continued to decline, it did so at a slower rate. Scientists hoped it would soon turn around and begin to recover.

But they didn't count on China.

The country's newly-minted millionaires stimulated a demand for dried fish bladders. Called fish maw, they are alleged to possess medicinal properties including the ability to increase fertility. The source of those fish bladders: the Mexican totoaba, a critically endangered fish found in the same waters as the vaquita.

Totoaba bladders are worth up to $5,000 per kilogram and can command as much as $100,000 on the black market in China, according to a 2016 report by the Environmental Investigation Agency. They can be found at retailers in major Chinese cities as well as online sites such as Alibaba. Poachers often take their boats out at night, and use gillnets under the cover of darkness to round up as many totoaba as they can. The vaquita are merely bycatch, caught up in the nets where they often drown or die from stress.

Fish maw wholesaler in Shantou, China (c) EIAEnvironmental Investigation Agency

Details of the plan to save the vaquita are still being worked out.

Plans may involve using dolphins from the Navy Marine Mammal Program, which has studied, trained and deployed these highly intelligent animals since the 1950s. Dolphins would be used to help locate vaquitas. They would then be coaxed into lightweight surface gillnets. It's never been done before with vaquitas, but harbor porpoises in Greenland have been captured safely in a similar manner.

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