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Worst-Ever Right Whale Die-Off Continues to Puzzle

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posted on May, 11 2013 @ 10:23 AM

Scientists still don't know why hundreds of baby southern right whales are turning up dead around Patagonia, a decade after observers first saw signs of the worst die-off on record for the species, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

They say kelp gulls at Peninsula Valdes land on the backs of the cetaceans to eat their skin and blubber

"The attacks are very painful and cause large, deep lesions, particularly on the backs of young 2-6 week-old calves," the researchers said in a statement from WCS. "This harassment can last for hours at a time. As a result, right whale mothers and their calves are expending much precious energy during a time of year when mothers are fasting and at a site where little to no food is available to replenish fat reserves."

The posted title from yahoo news is a misnomer IMO; an attention grabber.... the article points to the reason why the calves are not surviving.
Evidently Kelp Gulls have developed a taste for the young calves.

The Gulls I have met are omnivores and smart in a Gull sort of way when it comes to food. If one even looks like it has something to eat the flockmates will pay attention, mob the scene, and even try to steal. So, all it takes is one or two landing on a calf to eat and all of a sudden others will mimic and over time you have every Gull in the area looking for a whale..

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 11:23 AM
Maybe they should check their radiation levels........ Tip: Look for cesium

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 11:48 AM
reply to post by mactheaxe

When I saw the headline that was the first thing I thought of too. Evidently though the answer is much more mundane.

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 12:23 PM
Two things come to mind after seeing this. The first is The lawsuit filed to try and stop the US Navy from expanding the sonar training facility off the east coast.

The Navy wants to begin installation of the undersea range next year and has agreed to suspend construction during the calving season from November to April. However, the military refused a request to halt training at the site during the same months, saying it would undermine readiness. Wood ruled the Navy considered and "rationally rejected" the precautions requested by conservationists.

The second thing comes from my chicken raising experiences. If a chick or full grown chicken is perceived to be in a weakened state by one in the flock, it will begin to peck at it. Once the weakened chick has a open wound the others will continue to peck at it which creates a cycle of weakening and unless you separate the wounded chick from the flock it will eventually become so weak that the flock will essentially eat it alive.

I personally am hoping for a day when those who feel it necessary to mess with the delicate biological balance of things for objectives that I would consider temporary will become aware of the bigger picture before its to late.


posted on May, 11 2013 @ 01:30 PM
reply to post by pennylemon

Yes Penny if you ever go to a big big chicken farm the chicks upper beak is partly burned/cut off to stop them from pecking and killing each other in such crowded conditions.

Probably a video someplace that shows the process?

posted on May, 11 2013 @ 02:42 PM
reply to post by 727Sky

Yes sky,

I have seen large scale chicken operations first hand and it's not pretty.

My point in this case is while experts in the article claim that one possible reason for the deaths are the relentless attacks by the local seagull population, it seems more likely that the attacks themselves are the result of a weakened population of mothers and calves to begin with.

edit on 11-5-2013 by pennylemon because: (no reason given)

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