Questions about whales for "Ask A Scientist"

From: Greg Early (mailgearly@yahoo.com)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2005 - 14:02:27 EST

  • Next message: Greg Early: "RE: Questions about whales for "Ask A Scientist""

    Ms. Edwards,

    You have some tough ones here.

    Which Buelga Whales are endangered,what threatens them
    and how can we support the effort to save them?

    Although there are probably 60,000 - 80,000 or so
    belugas in the world, several stocks (parts of the
    population) are considered endangered. I'm using
    those listed under the Endangered Species Act(ESA) (in
    the US) and the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in Canada.
    In canada the S.E. Baffin Isl. pop. St. Lawrence R.
    pop.and the Ungava Bay pop F are listed by SARA. In
    the US there has been a request to list the belugas of
    Cook Inlet to the ESA, but as far as I know they are
    not listed. Belugas are hunted and this is one of the
    reasons for low populations - and is the main reason
    that the Cook Inlet population has not been listed
    under the ESA. The St. Lawrence belugas live in a
    habitat that has been degraded by industrial and human
    waste. Many consider this to be one of the reasons
    for their population troubles.

    What can you do? A good start is to educate yourself
    about belugas and their problems. WhaleNet has some
    resources about belugas, but you can also check
    http://nmml.afsc.noaa.gov/education/cetaceans/beluga2.htm

    as a place to start. Once you have a good idea of the
    problems - they are complicated, so don't just go on
    my short answer here - support groups that are trying
    to make those changes.

    How many whales die a year from containment's and what
    are the containment's?

    I'm thinking you mean pollution here and again there
    is no easy answer. We really do not know. Part of
    the problem is that some of the effects of some
    pollutants are subtle, and part of the problem is that
    some pollution may only increase the chance that an
    animal will get sick and not actually kill it. I
    guess my answer is "More than should".

    What kinds of things are pollution. There are some
    that are the result of biological things - such as
    bacteria from sewage or farm run off. There are man
    made chemicals - like PCBs - that were made for one
    purpose but have an unwanted effect (and do not go
    away) when flushed into the ocean (and food chain).
    There are even naturally occurring pollution as the
    result of toxic algae and such. These can also do
    damage to marine mammal populations. For example
    hundreds of sea lions on the west coast became sick
    from an algal toxin that got into the food the sea
    lions fed on.

    How many babies does a whale have in a lifetime?

    Another one that folks don't really know that much
    about. It is probably different for different species,
    though. The other problem is that we do not even
    know how long some large whales live. If you do some
    checking to find out how long some whales live, yuo
    will find all sorts of estimates.

    How do you sedate a whale if you need to operate on
    them? Well people do not operate on the very large
    whales, but if they did, they would probably have to
    do what they do for small cetaceans, like dolphins.
    By the way "sedation" will just relax you - you would
    probably want to be knocked out (anesthetized) for
    anything major. Anesthetizing a dolphin is much like
    anesthetizing any other animal. In people, a mask
    with anesthetic goes over your face and you inhale the
    anesthetic. Dolphins (and whales) do not breath
    through their mouths and their nose is on top of their
    heads (blowhole). Because of some tricky anatomy, the
    only way to get at their "nose" is to reach into their
    mouths and place a tube in the airway that connects to
    their blowhole. It takes a pretty long arm in a small
    dolphin, I'm not sure what you would have to use to do
    the same thing in a large whale.

    Can an Orca kill a Blue Whale?

    A single orca would probably have a tough time with a
    full grown blue whale. A baby whale, maybe. A group
    of Orcas could probably kill and adult blue whale.

    ge

     

    --- "Edwards, Karen E" <kedward5@jefferson.k12.ky.us>
    wrote:

    > Dear Mr. Early,
    >
    > I am a Library Media Specialist at Kenwood
    > Elementary in Louisville, KY. We
    > read the book Symphony of Whales and have been
    > studying whales. The
    > students from the Learning Lions class has several
    > questions that we hope
    > you can answer: Which Buelga Whales are endangered,
    > what threatens them and
    > how can we support the effort to save them? How
    > many whales die a year
    > from containment's and what are the containment's?
    > How many babies does a
    > whale have in a lifetime? How do you sedate a whale
    > if you need to operate
    > on them? Can an Orca kill a Blue Whale?
    >
    > Thank You,
    > Karen E. Edwards
    > Library Media Specialist
    > Kenwood Elementary
    >



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