Updates from Antarctica

Updates from Antarctica

Dr. Fearnbach and her research collaborators report that they have successfully flown 59 hexacopter drone flights to-date, collecting images of 35 individual Type A killer whales, 25 Type B2 killer whales, 25 humpback whales, one Antarctic minke whale, and the first aerial photogrammetry images of Arnoux’s beaked whales.

Bald Eagle Facts and Population Health in Washington State

Bald Eagles in Washington State

An estimated 9,000 bald eagle pairs called Washington State home when settlers first arrived in the late 1700s. By the 1950s bald eagles had been wiped out of Washington and nearly wiped out of the United States with the exception of small populations in Florida and Alaska. Initially bald eagles were persecuted because it was believed, falsely, that they preyed on young livestock. However it was the introduction of pesticides like DDT that led to a rapid and precipitous population decline. It was not until 1972 with the banning of DDT that the population trend began to reverse. 

In the 1980s Washington was home to just 104 bald eagle breeding pairs. By 2005, an estimated 840 occupied territories were documented throughout the state. Due to this remarkable rebound, the bald eagle was removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 2007 and removed from the list of protected species in Washington State in 2016. 

There are indications that the bald eagle population is nearing carrying capacity in parts of western Washington. Their numbers may still be increasing in northeastern Washington and along some rivers in western Washington.

Southwest Florida Eagle Cam

Watch the eaglets hatch via live stream

Eagle Facts

  1. Eagle nests typically measure 4-5 feet wide and 2-4 feet deep and often way 1,000 lbs or more! The largest recorded nest was 9.5 feet wide, 20 feet tall and weighed over 6,000 lbs! 
  2. Bald eagle mated pairs perform elaborate mid-air courtship dances, locking talons and spiraling down before flying up and repeating. 
  3. The average weight of an adult eagle is between 8-10 pounds which is the same as a house cat. Female eagles are larger than males.
  4. The wingspan of a bald eagle is ~ 6 feet
  5. Eggs take 35 days from when they are laid until they hatch.
  6. The male and the female eagle take turns sitting on the eggs.
  7. Baby eaglets must ‘pip’ their way out of the egg all on their own.
  8. Baby eaglets stay in the nest for 10-14 weeks before they attempt their first flights.
  9. Young eagles learn to hunt by watching their parents hunt and parents often feed the juvenile eagles for several months after they learn to fly.
  10. In Washington, eagles are hatched in the early spring months (March-May) and leave the nest in mid to late summer.
  11. There are many places to go see eagles in the wild including the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center and more https://skagiteagle.org/viewing-sites/

Nets Kill Nearly 1,000 Marine Mammals a Day, Group Says

Fishing nets intended for other marine species are killing at-risk species of dolphins and porpoises around the world, according to a report commissioned by the nonprofit World Wildlife Fund-U.S.

Leading marine scientists ranked dolphins and porpoises across the globe for the risk they face from lethal fishing nets. Ten species are included in a list of populations conservationists say require urgent action to prevent further deaths. The report lists the following priority locations and species:

  • Philippines and Southeast Asia: Irrawaddy dolphins
  • Zanzibar (East Africa): Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins
  • Black Sea: Harbor porpoises
  • Philippines: Spinner dolphins and Fraser's dolphins
  • Ghana and Togo (West Africa): Atlantic humpback dolphins
  • Peru: Burmeister's porpoises
  • Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil: Franciscana dolphins
  • Argentina: Commerson's dolphins

Researchers say most of these species are killed by gillnets. Made of monofilament (single-strand) nylon mesh, gillnets are difficult for dolphins and porpoises to see or detect with their sonar.

Once entangled in netting or its supporting ropes, marine mammals face high risk of drowning. Driftnets and crab nets can also kill the mammals. Nontarget species accidentally caught in fishing equipment are known as bycatch.

"Almost one thousand whales, dolphins, and porpoises die every day in nets and fishing gear," said Karen Baragona, of the WWF species-conservation program.

The new report will be submitted to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) at its annual meeting next week in South Korea.

Last year the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy identified bycatch as the greatest global threat to cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises). Marine experts estimate that more than 300,000 cetaceans are killed by fishing gear every year.

Randall Reeves, lead author of the WWF-U.S. report, chairs the World Conservation Union's Cetacean Specialist Group, based in Gland, Switzerland. He says the study team focused on identifying cetacean species or populations most likely to end up as bycatch—especially those where the prospect of successful mitigation measures appeared good.