Together with a German TV team we drove to Tromsø to join old friends on a diving boat (Strømsholmen diving and Orques sans frontiers) to look for whales close by. I heard so much about the feeding frenzy inside Kaldfjord, where so much herring is located that the oxygen levels are very low. but with the herring plenty of humpback whales and orcas were seen feeding on it.
On the last day of Stromsholen diving in the north I got a chance to join them and it did not even take half an hour, when the first humpback whales were seen and what a sight! two of these big whales (14m) breaches twice with their full body out of the water!
later we saw them feeding together, at least 10 humpback whales were herding the herring from below using a bubble net and coordinated feeding behaviour. we heard and saw the herring flying to the surface and the whales following closely, opening their large mouths and gulping herring and water inside. it was a sight I have never seen before and I did not expect it. unfortunately the waves were too high otherwise I could have recorded their sounds, which is something I am very interested in, how do they communicate their cooperative feeding behaviour?
Maybe if I can manage to collect enough research donations, I will be able to go out again in January…
However, the short day was full of action and we all were happy coming back on shore. the ZDF will show the film already 25.12 in Germany and Pierre put a small video clip on the net from that day, the link to the videoclip: http://vimeo.com/80629447
I will donate my picture to researcher Fredrik Broms for his Photo-ID database on humpback whales, if you have pictures as well please send them to him!
..a young fin whale washed ashore dead 16.11.2013 in Hovsund on the outside of Lofoten. the whale was around 15m long and already partly decayed. it was impossible to see whether it was a female or a male, but it has been dead for a while before washing ashore. the jaw bones were totally crashed and twisted, which indicates that it was either killed by a collision whit a strong object (a ship) or it became damaged when washing ashore.
we could not open the stomach to look for plastic or other pollution, which could also be the cause of death. however we took skin and blubber samples as well as baleen samples.
In cooperation with the Univeristy of Bodø, we will start a database for tissues of stranded marine mammals with Prof Jarle Nordeide and Prof Truls Moum at the faculty of Bio-sciences and Aquaculture. Please report to us or send samples directly one of us for further analysis. we would like to understand marine mammal distribution and causes of strandings.
BBC documentary: “Killer Whales – Beneath the Surface”by Bill Markham is going to air on BBC2 (as part of the Natural World series) on Friday 25th October.
As part of the whole documentary he filmed our work with killer whales in Lofoten during summer 2012 . They were filming with us for 3 weeks and could cover the story of “Stumpy”, a handicapped orca that was cared for by other orcas. In addition we went to Tenerife to cover the story of captive killer whales, including Morgan…
In this issue (October 2013) of the BBC’s Wildlife Magazine, an article by Bill Markham about our work with orcas in Lofoten from the summer 2012 was published. Bill was filming with us for 3 weeks and could cover the story of “Stumpy”, a handicapped orca that was cared for by other orcas.
It will also be featured in a BBC documentary: “Killer Whales – Beneath the Surface”, which is going to air on BBC2 (as part of the Natural World series) on Friday 25th October at 9pm UK time.
Article: Caring killers
Killer whale families are capable of far deeper emotions than we thought – and even adopt unrelated individuals. Bill Markham, producer of a new BBC documentary, investigates.
The seismic shooting stopped 1.9.2013 and now 9 days later the first whales were seen again in the Vestfjord, possibly orcas and pilot whales. the sightings came from the ferry and people from Skrova, which have seen the whales from land!
Unfortunately the weather forecast is bad for the next days and I have no gasoline money anymore, so I will not be able to go out with my boat and study them
Today, 15.9.2013 a group of 15 Atlantic White Sided Dolphins have been seen just outside the Svolvær airport!
After 3 months of non-stop seismic shooting at the entrance of Vestfjord and disappearance of all large whales, will they move north to Andforden to continue searching for more oil there. When is enough?
Nature and Youth (Natur og ungdom) have now started a petition for the Norwegian government to stop the seismic activity.
You can join us, it is a beginning, here is the the link to the letter (in Norwegian) and petition site
First week of August during calm weather days we found a few minke whales in the Vestfjord and harbor porpoises. A few days later a group of ca 30 Atlantic white sided dolphins traveled from the middle of the Vestfjord towards Raftsundet. The following days more dolphins were seen there and the last sighting was just outside Henningsvaer when the dolphins moved southwards again.
However, the seismic shooting is still going on, planned until the 5.9.2013, and no larger whales are seen. Even the dolphins left the Vestfjord immediately and swam into the more protected area inside Raftsundet, after seismic shooting could be heard inside Vestfjord again.
It seems obvious that there is a correlation between the seismic shooting and the appearance of larger whales inside the Vestfjord. And despite the warning and demand of Fredric Hauge (Bellona) on the second of August, there is no stop in seismic activity. Nobody seems to take it seriously.
This year the seismic airgun shooting done by different companies at the entrance of the Vestfjord, which is regulated by the Norwegian Petrol Directorate, started the 6.6.2013. Before that we have seen many different species of whales, including the large migrating humpback whales. Since the seismic started no more big whales were seen and the after the group of pilot whales left (last seen 1.7.2013) no new animals entered the Vestfjord. The same absence of whales after seismic activity started was observed since 2009, when I recorded the seismic noise inside the Vestfjord for the first time. The summer months are important for the whales, both for migration and feeding. if they have to avoid these noisy areas, their migration becomes longer and they find less food, which affects their survival rate negatively.
We are very worried that this uncontrolled activity in Norway will have disastrous effect on the whale population in Norway! it will not only affect the direct survival of the whales but also the local peoples livelihood, such as disturbance of the marine ecosystem, lack of whales for tourism and recreational value!
Together with Bellona we have announced the problem to the Norwegian politicians and media. Here is a newspaper article about our action and message to the politicians in Norwegian: Stavanger aftenbladet