Posts Tagged ‘Seals’

Great whites more brainy than ‘Jaws’ typecast

June 18, 2008

Depicting great white sharks lunging out of the water to devour seals doesn’t seem to argue against the species’ reputation as one of the ocean’s most bloodthirsty predators. But Smithsonian magazine does just that in a new story, using the sophisticated way in which great whites hunt to show how they ought to be known more for brains than jaws:

Despite this awesome display of predator power, [marine biologist Alison] Kock and other researchers claim that the shark has been defamed: Its reputation as a ruthless, mindless man-eater is undeserved. In the last decade, Kock and other shark experts have come to realize that sharks rarely hunt humans — and that the beasts are sociable and curious. “Unlike most fish,” Kock says, “white sharks are intelligent, highly inquisitive creatures.”

Click here for the full article.

Humans Likely Making Chimps Sick

June 17, 2008

Humans are likely the source of a virus that is making chimps sick in Africa, new research suggests.

After studying chimpanzees in Tanzania for the past year, Virginia Tech researcher Taranjit Kaur and her team have obtained data from molecular, microscopic and epidemiological investigations that demonstrate how the chimpanzees living there at Mahale Mountains National Park have been suffering from a respiratory disease that is likely caused by a variant of a human paramyxovirus.

Paramyxovirus causes various human diseases including mumps and measles. The virus also can cause distemper in dogs and seals, cetacean morbillivirus in dolphins and porpoises, Newcastle disease virus in birds and rinderpest virus in cattle.

Click here for the full article.

Unravelling The Mystery Of The Kitty Litter Parasite In Marine Mammals

June 9, 2008

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University have discovered what may be a clue to the mystery of why marine mammals around the world are succumbing to a parasite that is typically only associated with cats. The key may just be the lowly anchovy, according to research presented today at the 108th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston.

Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan parasite which causes toxoplasmosis, considered to be the third leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 20% of the U.S. population carries the parasite, the only known reservoir of the infectious form of the parasite (the oocyst) are cats.

Over the past decade, toxoplasma infection has appeared in a variety of sea mammals including beluga whales, dolphins, sea lions and seals. It has also become a major cause of death in sea otters living off the coast of California. It is estimated that approximately 17% of sea otter deaths can be attributed to toxoplasma. While many believe fresh water runoff contaminated with cat feces is to blame, there is no definitive science on the source of infection.

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Caribbean Monk Seal Gone Extinct From Human Causes, NOAA Confirms

June 9, 2008

After a five year review, NOAA’s Fisheries Service has determined that the Caribbean monk seal, which has not been seen for more than 50 years, has gone extinct—the first type of seal to go extinct from human causes.

Monk seals became easy targets for hunters while resting, birthing, or nursing their pups on the beach. Overhunting by humans led to these seals’ demise, according to NOAA biologists.

The last confirmed sighting of the seal was in 1952 in the Caribbean Sea at Seranilla Bank, between Jamaica and the Yucatán Peninsula. This was the only subtropical seal native to the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Click here for the full article.

Sealers accused of skinning animals before ensuring death

May 14, 2008

Four sealers are facing charges in Newfoundland courts for failing to properly check if the seals they shot were actually dead before they were skinned.

Federal Fisheries Department spokesman Jerry Walsh says 17 charges have been laid against the four men for allegedly violating seal hunt rules in April 2007.

The sealers have yet to appear before the courts, and their names and hometowns weren’t released.

The sealers are being charged under a section of the marine mammal regulation dealing with the type of weapons used to kill the seal, and a so-called blink test that sealers are required to carry out before skinning the mammal.

The rule requires the sealers to touch the seal’s eyes after it is shot to ensure that it is dead.

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Fur Seal Caught Trying to Mate With Penguin

May 13, 2008

An Antarctic fur seal has been caught on camera trying to have sex with a penguin.

This seems to be the first known example of a sexual escapade between a mammal and another kind of vertebrate such as a bird, reptile or fish, “although some mammals are known to have attempted sexual relief with inanimate — including dead things — objects,” said researcher Nico de Bruyn, a mammal ecologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

One summer morning, scientists observing elephant seals on a beach on Marion Island near the Antarctic spotted a young male Antarctic fur seal subduing a king penguin.

“At first we thought it was hunting the penguin, but then it became clear that his intentions were rather more amorous,” de Bruyn recalled Monday via e-mail.

Click here for the full article.

Animals take shape on the Underground

April 17, 2008

A hard-hitting public awareness campaign to help protect seals, whales and elephants is being run by The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Animals on the Underground.

The campaign will feature ads on 224 sites across the London Underground network from April 21 for two weeks. Members of the public are being asked to send a text message to help protect these threatened or endangered species.

Tens of thousands of endangered elephants continue to be threatened by the illegal ivory trade, over a quarter of a million seals are killed annually in Canada’s cruel and unsustainable seal hunt and whales are still being harpooned despite an international ban on commercial whaling.

“These posters will place a spotlight on the current threats to some of the world’s most iconic species – whales, elephants and seals,” said Robbie Marsland, Director of IFAW UK. “This is a great opportunity to highlight to people across London that they can make a difference by taking action in support of IFAW’s campaigns to end this cruelty.”

Click here for the full article.

New multi-million $ sea animal exhibit at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo

April 3, 2008

The Great Southern Oceans display – the largest building project in the zoo’s 91-year history – was unveiled Thursday by NSW Premier Morris Iemma.

The new exhibit should give visitors to the zoo a chance to get close-up and personal with the Southern Ocean’s greatest inhabitants, Mr Iemma said.

“This state-of-the-art exhibit is home to some of the amazing ocean life around Australia’s 60,000km coastline and confirms the zoo’s place as a jewel in Sydney’s tourism crown,” he told reporters at the Zoo today.

“Children and adults alike will come face to face with these magnificent ocean creatures in surrounds reflecting their natural marine habitat.

“Combining entertainment and discovery with education, conservation, research and vital breeding programs, Great Southern Ocean will encourage the community to support wildlife protection and take care of our environment,” he said.

Features of the new exhibit included a 950-seat Seal Discovery Theatre, a simulated Submarine Research Station and special climate change workshops for children, to teach them about the impact of everyday actions on our environment, Mr Iemma said.

Click here for the full article.

Enter Nigel Barker’s challenge to save seals

March 10, 2008
Here I am on March 3 with HSUS President Wayne Pacelle at the amazing seal nursery.
Photo credit: The HSUS

Dear Kitty Mowmow Reader,

Like you, I care deeply about animals and don’t ever want to see them suffer.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the shocking images: conscious seal pups being clubbed over the head and dragged across the ice … with some baby seals even skinned alive. I vowed right then to do everything I could to help stop this senseless cruelty.

One important way that you can help is by signing the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood until the seal hunt is stopped.

Why boycott Canadian seafood? Seal hunting is an off-season activity for Canada’s commercial fishermen, who earn a small fraction of their incomes from killing baby seals for their fur. That’s why a financial blow to the commercial fishing industry’s seafood exports is key to bringing about an end to this vicious slaughter.

After you’ve signed, please take my Pledge Challenge and ask all of your friends and family to sign, too.

The person who recruits the most new pledge signers will win a fabulous seal-themed prize pack from me. This prize pack includes a signed photo, my new T-shirt (see photo to the right), a campaign hoodie, and cute seal mug and baby seal plush toy. Ten runners-up will receive a signed photo and the baby seal plush toy. The more people you get to sign the pledge between now and midnight March 24, the greater the chance you’ll have to win! You can send up to 10 emails per message and up to 20 messages per day. Read all of the contest rules.

After what I have witnessed these past several days, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to help prevent these defenseless baby seals from being brutally slaughtered for their fur — most of which is exported to Europe. You see, I’ve just returned from the ice floes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where I joined my friends at The Humane Society of the United States in viewing an extraordinary sight — the birth of thousands of harp seal pups across a pristine and peaceful winter landscape. View my photos of this amazing place here. It’s so painful to think that in only a few weeks’ time, this beautiful seal nursery will be transformed into a scene of bloody carnage.

Please take a moment to sign the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood and help end this hunt forever.

Your involvement during these next few weeks is critical — because our campaign is starting to achieve real results. Since the ProtectSeals boycott began, the value of Canadian snow crab exports to the United States has plummeted $465 million (in Canadian dollars). Help us keep the pressure on Canada’s fishing industry by joining more than 545,000 people who have already signed the pledge!

It only takes a few minutes to speak up for baby seals. If we all act now, this may be the last commercial seal hunt any of us ever has to witness.


Nigel Barker

Copyright © 2008 The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) | All Rights Reserved.
The Humane Society of the United States | 2100 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20037 | 202-452-1100 |

For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

Another email from PETA: “Save Seals From Slaughter”

March 7, 2008

PETA still thinks my name is Naresh. What’s the deal with that?
-Kitty Mowmow

Save Seals from Slaughter -
Dear Naresh,

Once again, defying international opposition and all standards of human decency, the Canadian government is sanctioning the mass killing of helpless baby harp seals.

Donate NowIn the weeks ahead, hundreds of thousands of these animals will be beaten and stabbed with sharp hooks and sometimes even skinned alive—all so that someone can put on a coat, a collar, or cuffs made with real baby-seal fur.

PETA and caring people like you are fighting relentlessly to protect these animals. We must pressure the Canadian government to listen to the pleas of millions of people around the world who want this annual slaughter to stop. This year, seals need your help in raising an international outcry to help end the bloody hunt. Please take two important actions right now:

    1. Sign PETA’s worldwide petition to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding a permanent end to the annual slaughter of seals.

    2. Make an online donation to PETA to help us win the global fight to stop the abuse of seals and other animals for their fur. Your generous gift will help us take on the fur industry—designers, retailers, and consumers—as only PETA can.

Even in an industry known for its cruelty, Canada’s annual seal hunt—the largest slaughter of marine animals on the planet—stands alone for its violence and utter lack of compassion or mercy.

Hundreds of thousands of harp seals will be killed in a matter of weeks. Most of them will be less than 3 months old, and many will still be in their first weeks of life. The animals are so young and innocent that they will lie on the ice as their attackers approach. Even if they know that they should flee, their motor skills aren’t yet developed enough to do so. They have no chance of escaping to the safety of the water.

The carnage begins as the seals have their heads bashed in with clubs. Still conscious, they will be dragged across the ice with boat hooks. Then these sensitive, intelligent animals will be skinned, sometimes while they are still alive. The sealers will take their fur but leave the seals’ bodies on the ice to rot.

Someday soon, Canada will look back on its seal hunt with shame. But until that day comes, it is up to caring people like you and me to come to the defense of these gentle animals.

By signing the petition and making a generous donation online right now, you can help us bring international condemnation to the Canadian prime minister’s doorstep—a critical step in ending these atrocities.

Thank you, Naresh, for your unwavering commitment to these animals.

Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk, President
Ingrid Signature
Ingrid E. Newkirk

P.S. Help stop the slaughter of baby seals. Sign PETA’s global petition and make as generous a donation as you can afford so that we can show Canadian Prime Minister Harper that the world will not tolerate the mass slaughter of baby seals. Together, we can stand up for the young harp seals who still swim in the waters off Canada’s coast.

For more animal-esque music, news, and issues, tune in to Kitty Mowmow’s Animal Expo online at, Sunday nights 8-10 central.

Marine animals ‘shop’ for food: British researchers

February 28, 2008

British researchers believe they have shed new light on how marine animals such as fish, penguins, seals and turtles hunt for food, likening their methods to how humans search for a new restaurant.

The team of marine biologists based their conclusions on a study of Antarctic krill, a form of plankton eaten by penguins and seals after finding marked differences in the distribution of the vital food source.

Andrew Brierley, from the University of St Andrews’ School of Biology Gatty Marine Lab, said hunting strategies closely match the natural distributions of plankton and follow a set pattern of movement.

“Predators often hunt by making long initial journeys into a new feeding area — think of catching a bus in to a new town to look for a restaurant,” he said in a statement released by the university Wednesday.

“This is followed by a series of smaller jumps to harvest the prey in that region, like walking from the chip shop to the burger van in the same town.

“Once all the prey is consumed in the first location, predators then move on in a long jump in search of a new feeding location — a bit like getting a taxi home to raid the fridge after closing time (at the pub).”

Click here for the full article.

Video shows zoo animals’ dismal digs

February 16, 2008


San Francisco Zoo animals pace in their pens, swim in their own waste and live out their days in boredom and squalor, according to a video shown Thursday night to the city Animal Control and Welfare Commission at City Hall.

A polar bear’s white fur is splotched with green algae. A giraffe gnaws a hole in his barn in boredom. And a gray seal has been swimming in the same tiny pool for decades.

“This is just pathetic,” said animal rights activist Deniz Bolbol, who had been invited to show the video on behalf of Mill Valley’s In Defense of Animals group. “What are we teaching our children when we bring them to a place like this?”

Click here for the full article.