Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

Animals

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.


But efforts to transport the whale took an unfortunate turn. The state-provided dumpster was too small to contain and transport the 16-foot whale, as seen in a Twitter video posted by Jason Schreiber, a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

The clip shows a front end loader lowering the animal into the dumpster before it flops off the side and lands on the ground.

Schreiber reported for the New Hampshire Union Leader that the whale was covered, barricaded for protection and spent Monday night in the parking lot where it was dropped. The next morning, a larger dumpster arrived. A crew successfully transported the carcass to marine biologists for a postmortem examination on Wednesday.

Ashley Stokes, manager of the Seacoast Science Center's Marine Mammal Rescue Team, explained to the publication that a dumpster is ideal for transport because it keeps the whale contained and its bodily fluids from leaking. She added the whale's remains will be composted.

Although the whale's transportation is a debacle, its death is no laughing matter. Katie Pugliares-Bonner, a senior biologist and necropsy specialist at the New England Aquarium, told LiveScience that researchers have noticed an usual spike in large whale deaths in the Atlantic, especially for minke, humpback and the North Atlantic right whale.

Entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, underwater sounds and anthropogenic noise are an increasing concern for baleen whales such as minke, according to NOAA.

Earlier this year, NOAA declared an "Unusual Mortality Event"—a significant die-off—for minke whales from in the North Atlantic from Maine to South Carolina. This event began in January 2017 and strandings remain high, NOAA reported. Minke whales are not listed as threatened or endangered, but they are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

So when a dead whale washes ashore, biologists use it as an opportunity to study how it died, LiveScience wrote. A necropsy can reveal if the animals were entangled or died of an infectious disease, Pugliares-Bonner explained to the publication. This information can then help inform conservation and wildlife management efforts.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Deserted view of NH24 near Akshardham Temple on day nine of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus on April 2, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is home to 21 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, but recently air pollution levels have started to drop dramatically as the second-most populated nation endures the second week of a 21-day lockdown amidst coronavirus fears, according to The Weather Channel.

Read More Show Less
A Unicef social mobilizer uses a speaker as she carries out public health awareness to prevent the spread and detect the symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus by UNICEF at Mangateen IDP camp in Juba, South Sudan on April 2. ALEX MCBRIDE / AFP / Getty Images

By Eddie Ndopu

  • South Africa is ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.
  • Its townships are typical of high-density neighbourhoods across the continent where self-isolation will be extremely challenging.
  • The failure to eradicate extreme poverty is a threat beyond the countries in question.
Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. on Nov. 9, 2015. Al Drago / CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of two malarial drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, despite only anecdotal evidence that either is proven effective in treating or slowing the progression of the disease in seriously ill patients.

Read More Show Less
Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less