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Southern right whale calves are dying off Argentina’s Peninsula Valdes

March 30, 2010

More than 300 southern right whales, most of them young calves, have been Southern right whale (Peninsula Valdés, Argentina) Michaël Catanzaritifound dead in the past five years in the waters off Argentina’s Patagonian coast around Peninsula Valdes. This area is one of their most important breeding grounds.

A special scientific meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has just concluded a workshop aimed at determining why so many of these whale calves have died.

Health experts and biologists who participated in the workshop have ruled out orca attacks, disturbances from whale-watching boats, vessel strikes or fishing gear entanglement as the cause of this extraordinarily high death toll. They suspect harmful biotoxins from algae or other organisms, disease, environmental factors at the nursing grounds or hunger due to lack of lack of prey at the whales’ feeding grounds. In short, the whale’s home is falling apart at the seams.

Official results from the workshop will be released after ‘review and approval’ at the IWC’s annual meeting scheduled to take place in Morocco in June, but don’t expect to hear much about it in the media, becasue the ‘deal’ to recommence whaling will also be on the table. The ironies never end.

Margi Prideaux

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