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Young Humpback Whale Found Dead, Exposes Devastating Impacts of Ocean Trash
A humpback whale was found dead on the Isle of Barra in Scotland earlier this week. According to the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme, the juvenile male had lesions on its tail that was likely caused by inadvertent entanglement in fishing gear.
Bruce Taylor/ Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme
The Hebrides News reported March 2 that the 26-foot-long whale was in a "poor, thin condition" when first discovered by local residents. A spokesman from the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme told the publication that the cuts on the whale's body were consistent with being accidentally caught in fishing gear which may have indirectly caused its death.
"It's an unfortunate accident as fishermen obviously do not go out intending to catch whales," the spokesperson said, who added that since whales can't swim in reverse, the heavy weight of trailing ropes and fishing creel acts "like a sea anchor so it can't feed properly and loses condition."
The Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme noted on Facebook that the lesions found on the whale's body was "typical of those we see associated with creel lines."
"We have no way of knowing whether it was active or ghost gear that it became entangled in," the post continues. "It is possible it was cut loose from active gear but equally it could of floated loose from ghost gear."
"Ghost gear" includes nets, lines and traps that are lost, abandoned or discarded in our oceans. With an estimated 640,000 tonnes of this material left in our oceans annually, ghost gear can have a devastating and deadly effect on aquatic life.
There have been 21 strandings of humpback whales recorded in the UK since 2001, the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme noted on Facebook.
"Entanglement is the most commonly recorded cause of death for Minke whales in Scottish waters, and has been observed in several humpback whales and other species as well, including the Killer whale that stranded on Tiree earlier this year," the organization wrote.
"Nevertheless the exact numbers and scale at which entanglement occurs are unknown, making it challenging to quantify the issue and its impact on a population level."
As EcoWatch reported last month, an adult female Orca named Lulu was found dead on the Scottish island of Tiree with deep lesions on her body. After a necropsy was performed, the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme concluded the whale had been “chronically entangled” in abandoned fishing gear for several days and likely drowned from entanglement.
According to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, adult male humpbacks grow up to 40-48 feet and have a life expectancy of 45-50 years. There are an estimated 30,000-40,000 humpbacks on the planet, or about 30-35 percent of the original population.
Although the humpback whale is currently listed as endangered, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years have led to an increase in numbers and growth rates for humpback whales in many areas and has proposed removing most of the species’s population sites off the endangered species list.
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Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.