MARINE BIOLOGY - CETACEANS

Nursing a sick whale presents another challenge for the intrepid crew of the Solar Navigator

 

 

   

 

Twenty-nine percent (29%) of the earth's surface is covered in water

 

 

Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Given that in biology many phyla, families and genera have some species that live in the sea and others that live on land, marine biology classifies species based on the environment rather than on taxonomy. Marine biology differs from marine ecology as marine ecology is focused on how organisms interact with each other and the environment, and biology is the study of the organisms themselves.

A large proportion of all life on Earth exists in the ocean. Exactly how large the proportion is unknown, since many ocean species are still to be discovered. The ocean is a complex three-dimensional world covering about 71% of the Earth's surface. Because of its depth it contains about 300 times the habitable volume of the terrestrial habitats on Earth. The habitats studied in marine biology include everything from the tiny layers of surface water in which organisms and abiotic items may be trapped in surface tension between the ocean and atmosphere, to the depths of the oceanic trenches, sometimes 10,000 meters or more beneath the surface of the ocean. Specific habitats include coral reefs, kelp forests, seagrass meadows, the surrounds of seamounts and thermal vents, tidepools, muddy, sandy and rocky bottoms, and the open ocean (pelagic) zone, where solid objects are rare and the surface of the water is the only visible boundary. The organisms studied range from microscopic phytoplankton and zooplankton to huge cetaceans (whales) 30 meters (98 feet) in length.

Marine life is a vast resource, providing food, medicine, and raw materials, in addition to helping to support recreation and tourism all over the world. At a fundamental level, marine life helps determine the very nature of our planet. Marine organisms contribute significantly to the oxygen cycle, and are involved in the regulation of the Earth's climate. Shorelines are in part shaped and protected by marine life, and some marine organisms even help create new land.

Many species are economically important to humans, including food fish (both finfish and shellfish). It is also becoming understood that the well-being of marine organisms and other organisms are linked in very fundamental ways. The human body of knowledge regarding the relationship between life in the sea and important cycles is rapidly growing, with new discoveries being made nearly every day. These cycles include those of matter (such as the carbon cycle) and of air (such as Earth's respiration, and movement of energy through ecosystems including the ocean). Large areas beneath the ocean surface still remain effectively unexplored.

 

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Marine biology encompasses many facets of interaction with sea life, to include land drainage, algal bloom, reptiles that return to land to nest and much more.

 


HISTORY - Aristotle (384–322 BC) is often considered the father of marine biology. In Aristotelian science, especially biology, things he saw himself have stood the test of time. His dissection studies did not include humans.

 

The Challenger expedition (AD 1872-76) resulted in discoveries of fundamental importance to marine biology. The Challenger expedition was a scientific exercise that made many discoveries to lay the foundation of oceanography. The expedition was named after the mother vessel, HMS Challenger.

Prompted by Charles Wyville Thomsom, of the University of Edinburgh and Merchiston Castle School, the Royal Society of London obtained the use of Challenger from the Royal Navy and in 1872 modified the ship for scientific work, equipping her with separate laboratories for natural history and chemistry. The expedition, led by Captain George Nares, sailed from Portsmouth, England, on 21 December 1872. Other naval officers included Commander John Maclear. 

 

Under the scientific supervision of Thomson himself, HMS Challenger travelled nearly 70,000 nautical miles (130,000 km) surveying and exploring. The result was the Report Of The Scientific Results of the Exploring Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76 which, among many other discoveries, catalogued over 4,000 previously unknown species. John Murray, who supervised the publication, described the report as "the greatest advance in the knowledge of our planet since the celebrated discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries". Challenger sailed close to Antarctica, but not within sight of it.

 

ECOSYSTEM

 

The marine ecosystem is large, and thus there are many sub-fields of marine biology. Most involve studying specializations of particular animal groups, such as phycology, invertebrate zoology and ichthyology.

Other subfields study the physical effects of continual immersion in sea water and the ocean in general, adaptation to a salty environment, and the effects of changing various oceanic properties on marine life. A subfield of marine biology studies the relationships between oceans and ocean life, and global warming and environmental issues (such as carbon dioxide displacement).

Recent marine biotechnology has focused largely on marine biomolecules, especially proteins, that may have uses in medicine or engineering. Marine environments are the home to many exotic biological materials that may inspire biomimetic materials.

Marine biology is a branch of biology and is closely linked to oceanography. It also encompasses many ideas from ecology. Fisheries science and marine conservation can be considered partial offshoots of marine biology (as well as environmental studies). Marine Chemistry, Physical oceanography and Atmospheric sciences are closely related to this field.

MARINE HABITATS

The marine environment supplies many kinds of habitats that support marine life. Marine life depends in some way on the saltwater that is in the sea (the term marine comes from the Latin mare, meaning sea or ocean). A habitat is an ecological or environmental area inhabited by one or more living species.

Marine habitats can be divided into coastal and open ocean habitats. Coastal habitats are found in the area that extends from as far as the tide comes in on the shoreline out to the edge of the continental shelf. Most marine life is found in coastal habitats, even though the shelf area occupies only seven percent of the total ocean area. Open ocean habitats are found in the deep ocean beyond the edge of the continental shelf.

Alternatively, marine habitats can be divided into pelagic and demersal habitats. Pelagic habitats are found near the surface or in the open water column, away from the bottom of the ocean. Demersal habitats are near or on the bottom of the ocean. An organism living in a pelagic habitat is said to be a pelagic organism, as in pelagic fish. Similarly, an organism living in a demersal habitat is said to be a demersal organism, as in demersal fish. Pelagic habitats are intrinsically shifting and ephemeral, depending on what ocean currents are doing.

Marine habitats can be modified by their inhabitants. Some marine organisms, like corals, kelp, mangroves and seagrasses, are ecosystem engineers which reshape the marine environment to the point where they create further habitat for other organisms.

CURRENT RESEARCH

An active research topic in marine biology is to discover and map the life cycles of various species and where they spend their time. Marine biologists study how the ocean currents, tides and many other oceanic factors affect ocean life forms, including their growth, distribution and well-being. This has only recently become technically feasible with advances in GPS and newer underwater visual devices.

Most ocean life breeds in specific places, nests or not in others, spends time as juveniles in still others, and in maturity in yet others. Scientists know little about where many species spend different parts of their life cycles. For example, it is still largely unknown where sea turtles and some sharks travel. Tracking devices do not work for some life forms, and the ocean is not friendly to technology. This is important to scientists and fishermen because they are discovering that by restricting commercial fishing in one small area they can have a large impact in maintaining a healthy fish population in a much larger area far away.

 

MARINE MAMMALS PROTECTION ACT 1972 - JANUARY 2014

 

Prominent California marine biologist Nancy Black was sentenced on Monday 13th January after pleading guilty to violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act by feeding killer whales in the wild, a misdemeanor. Nancy was sentenced to three years of probation, $12,500 in fines and 300 hours of community service.

Black, who runs a popular whale watching tour on Monterey Bay, had pleaded guilty to one count of violating the federal act when she was accused of feeding whale blubber to orcas in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 2004 and 2005.

 

Nancy broke into tears as she addressed US District Court Judge Edward J. Davila on Monday. 'I made a mistake,' she said. 'I've learned a big lesson.' She added, that she has been through: 'the worst nightmare I could ever imagine,' referring to the grueling case. The Judge responded: 'It's a sad event when a good scientist falls off the path. This is your life. This is your passion. These creatures rely on you.'

 

Prosecutor Christopher Hale said Black's offence raised the danger that the whales would come to associate humans with food. 'When wild animals are fed by humans, they learn to lose their natural wariness,' he said. 'That can lead to devastating effect.'' That is of course true to any unnatural interaction with wildlife, but each case should be judged on its merits.

 

Hale said he had never heard of a person being attacked by a whale: 'Who wants to be Patient Zero to be eaten by a killer whale because they're chumming for them.' 

Federal prosecutors initially accused Black of feeding orcas in 2004 and 2005, altering a videotape of her encounters with whales then lying about it. Falsifying evidence in such matters is just as much a crime as someone feeding a whale. Black's guilty plea resulted in federal prosecutors dropping all the other charges and not seeking jail time.

 

The marine biologist's work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet. She also operates Monterey Bay Whale Watch. She has also worked with federal agencies on the study of whales, including the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 

Black's attorney Larry Biegel said for scientific research, his client had collected a piece of gray whale blubber and tied it to rope in order to film the orcas eating.

 

The case has been closely monitored by the whale watching community, and Biegel feared that because Black has been ordered to maintain a distance of 100 yards from whales that her business competitors might seek to report her if a whale happened to come closer than that.

 

'Whale watching in Monterey Bay is a wonderful business, but it is a business,' Biegel said. 'And it is intensely competitive. There is tension there that could be used adversely.'

 

While we have sympathy for any scientist who may bend the rules occasionally to obtain results, this case tells us the routine, or long term abuses will not be tolerated. The tragic case of Luna the killer whale that was killed by a propeller, is an example of human interference that went wrong. So, unless a whale is in danger for its life - don't even think about trying to help it to survive.

 

 

 

Poor Nancy, she meant well.

 

 

THE US ACT

 

The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA) was the first act of Congress to call specifically for an ecosystem approach to natural resource management and conservation. It was signed into law on October 21, 1972 (and took effect 60 days later on December 21, 1972) by President Richard Nixon. MMPA prohibits the taking of marine mammals, and enacts a moratorium on the import, export, and sale of any marine mammal, along with any marine mammal part or product within the United States. The Act defines "take" as "the act of hunting, killing, capture, and/or harassment of any marine mammal; or, the attempt at such." The MMPA defines harassment as "any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance which has the potential to either: a. injure a marine mammal in the wild, or b. disturb a marine mammal by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering." The MMPA provides for enforcement of its prohibitions, and for the issuance of regulations to implement its legislative goals.

 

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) was enacted on October 21, 1972. All marine mammals are protected under the MMPA.

The MMPA prohibits, with certain exceptions, the "take" of marine mammals in U.S. waters and by U.S. citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S. Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 based on the following findings and policies:

Some marine mammal species or stocks may be in danger of extinction or depletion as a result of human activities;

 

These species or stocks must not be permitted to fall below their optimum sustainable population level ("depleted");

 

Measures should be taken to replenish these species or stocks;

There is inadequate knowledge of the ecology and population dynamics; and

Marine mammals have proven to be resources of great international significance.

 



MMPA AMENDMENTS 1994

 

Certain exceptions to the take prohibitions, including for small takes incidental to specified activities, when access by Alaska Natives to marine mammal subsistence resources can be preserved, and permits and authorizations for scientific research;

A program to authorize and control the taking of marine mammals incidental to commercial fishing operations;


Preparation of stock assessments for all marine mammal stocks in waters under U.S. jurisdiction; and
Studies of pinniped-fishery interactions.

 

 

 

Chapter  31  -  WHALE NURSE   150 N, 1550 E

 (extract from: Kulo Luna - The $Billion Dollar Whale by Jameson Hunter © 2014)

 

Mercifully, the sea remained calm enough for John and Suki to undertake several bounce dives. Suki took samples of tissue and blood underwater, carefully filling sample bottles. John was treading water on the surface having just come up to get his bearings. He boarded the Solar Navigator, nimbly leaping out of the water and was half way up the steps, when Suki appeared where he had been in a froth of bubbles. John started back down the steps to help Suki onto the diving platform.

“Excuse me Mr Storm, could you get me another sample container.” John smiled, eager to please, and climbed up the ships stairway again into the cockpit well. He found two more clear plastic bottles and gently tossed them to Suki from the boarding steps. Suki deftly caught them one in each hand. Then she duck-dived and was gone. John waited for more instructions..

Finally, Suki surfaced with the sample bottles full and climbed up the stairway. She dried herself quickly. Inside the aft cabin, Suki arranged the sample containers, looking around the interior as she did so. John and Dan were loitering full of curiosity, wanting to render assistance.

“Pretty neat,” said Suki. Dan and John looked at each other puzzled. 

“The boat, it’s very tidy.” 

“Oh. Thanks.” Said Dan.” Taking all the credit.

Suki ran a series of tests on a portable medical analysis machine called a Portalab ASD. It had the name in large metallic-red letters on the lid. 

“That’s rather swish,” said John, appreciating the virtual lab. “What does ASD stand for?”

“This? What about your boat, now that is amazing.”

John almost blushed, the boat was indeed superb, but it wasn’t his design; he’d just improved it. Suki was concentrating on the display, quizzing the results. Fitted into a small alloy suitcase, they’d crammed a mini centrifuge, a spectrometer, several dozen probes and a host of other advanced equipment many labs would be proud of. It was the medical equivalent of a digital multimeter, as used by electricians. The ASD was more than just a measuring device. It had an onboard computer that did a lot of the analysis work for the operator, suggesting possible interpretation and next moves.

“It looks expensive.” John pressed Suki for an answer.

“Yes, well they were. Now you can pick one up for around $10,000. They started out at more than $200,000. Put quite a few labs and surgeries out of business to begin with. I’m not sure what the ‘ASD’ stands for, but we say: all singing and dancing. The software is unbelievable. Extremely clever.”

“Sound’s about right,” said Dan, admiring the advice on a touch-screen built into the lid.

Suki carried on with her tests; blood and tissue. Placing a little on a sensor plate, then touching the screen to execute a command.

“Normally, we’d check the urine, if this were a human.” She gave a little smile.

John and Dan nodded as if they understood.

" Yuh, difficult to collect a sample ..." Said John.

" Somewhat impossible I'd say, Dan responded." 

Suki suddenly leapt up in the air excitedly and did a little dance, waggling her head from side to side so that her hair double-bounced, as she did so rotating on the spot. Her face came alive as though she'd just won the lottery, a smile as wide as a river mouth and she let out a tremendous whelp: "Yes." Then she stopped and looked a little awkward, realizing that she had company. Coming back down to earth she said: “No. Of course, that explains a lot.”

“What? Explains what?" Said the two men in unison, somewhat amused by the antics they'd just seen.

Suki continued somewhat more composed, “Kulo is carrying.” 

Dan chimed in, “Oh no, ladies things.”

“Yes, very big ladies things and she’s lost a lot of blood."

“Sorry,” said John more that a little confused. "Are you trying to tell me that a pregnant whale sank  a 600 ton trawler. Are you sure this whale is pregnant?”

Dan laughed out loud, Suki also. John was acting just like a father hearing the news for a first time. He wobbled a bit, signifying genuine shock.

Suki noted the reaction and continued. “She needs our help badly, and yes I am absolutely positive that this whale is pregnant. I'd stake my reputation on it.”

“What do you mean help.  Emotionally, nutritionally, what kind of help?” said the skipper, still steadying himself.

“Yes, the works, both, everything really - on a monumental scale; vitamins, minerals and antibiotics. Yes, and protein. I'd tell you to be nice to her, but I think from her reaction when you are in the water that she has already taken a shine to you."

John of course felt the same way. “You’ll have to work out a shopping list for us, then I’ll, er, we'll do - what we can. We'll place an order, which will probably involve some begging.”

Suki stopped quizzing the Portalab. She stored the sample bottles and closed the lid tight. Then she started writing out a list taking not very long. She handed it to John. John took a look at the list, nodded as if in approval and got on the radio. It took several minutes to make a connection. 

“We’d better keep this quiet.” He whispered to Dan.

“Hi Steve. Yes, no panic, we’re doing fine. But listen, oh and thanks for sorting us a decent marine biologist. That's why I'm calling really. She’s discovered a nutritional deficiency.

“She?”

“Yes, that’s right,” said John smiling to himself. "In fact they both are."

“What do you mean both. The whale and the doctor ........ what’s she like?”

“Capable and captivating ....... both of them.” John stopped when Suki looked over as if she could understand the conversation.

"Attractive, is she?"

John continued guardedly, “Very well equipped, and we are expecting an addition to the family." 

There was total silence on the other side. 

"Steve. Are you there Steve."

"Yes. Sorry, did you say expecting?"

"That's right old boy. Couldn't believe it myself. So, we need the following list of foods rather urgently I’m afraid. The lady has lost a lot of blood.”

John read off Suki’s long list. “100 pounds of salmon, 200 eggs, 2 sacks of haricot beans, and a couple of crates of a good glucose energy drink with vitamins. Have you got all that?”

“Wowee. Wow. Yes okay. It’s a bit .... this might take some time to source and er, it sounds expensive. I’ll have to get back to you.” 

"Sure. Think on the publicity. Do your best and pull out all the stops on this one. I'll owe you one. 

"You already do," said Steve.

"You might try a local aquarium......." 

The radio went dead, signifying that Steve was already on it. John cracked a wry grin that disappeared just as quickly as he realized that he had things to do. He paced up and down the co

"Okay. Suki, just how are we going to feed the whale what's on that list?" 

Suki smiled thoughtfully, "It's not going to be easy....... Technically, we'll probably be breaking the law ......

"How so ......... "

John to Steve ask Tom to send in sacks of vitamins, glucose, etc, etc, - which are helicoptered in like a courier service. (Cybershot storyboard). They can’t source some exotic ingredients in a hurry, so they send in a crate of Solar Tonic which they feed intravenously. “Are you sure about this?” “Not on this scale but it should work.”

Another long wait – here she comes again – lowers supplies – thumbs up and off again. “Those chaps are bloody marvellous.” …..

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A humpback whale stikes a blow for anti whaling - The $Billion Dollar Whale movie

 

 

 

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ACIDIFICATION - ADRIATIC - ARCTIC - ATLANTIC - BALTIC - BERING - CARIBBEAN - CORAL - EAST CHINA

 

ENGLISH CH - GULF MEXICO - INDIAN - MEDITERRANEAN - NORTH SEA - PACIFIC - PERSIAN GULF - SEA JAPAN

 

STH CHINA - PLASTIC - PLANKTON - PLASTIC OCEANS - SEA LEVEL RISE

 

LINKS & REFERENCE

 

Marine biologist Nancy Black fined $12,500 for illegally feeding wild whales

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_habitats

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_biology

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenger_expedition

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/2013/07/23/06/08/divers-nearly-swallowed-by-humpback-whales

http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/robin/humpback.htm

http://www.seashepherd.org/lightbox_pages/humpback_whale.php

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/whales/species/Humpbackwhale.shtml

http://www.npp.com.qa/

http://www.asdwire.com/press-release-8988/

http://www.maritimeaustralia.com.au/

http://www.pacific2013.com.au/innovation-awards/index.html

Kestrel Marine's Sentient object recognition system

Maritime Australia Limited

Pacific 2013 Awards

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