Whales may be affected by oil spill

The recent rupture of the Ecuadorian oil pipeline has affected the ecological sanctuary of the Colombian island of Gorgon, where hundreds of humpback whales gather every year to mate.

More than 500 whales arrive in the area between July and December and it is feared that the oil spill may block the whales' breathing system.

Minke whale rescued in Mersey

A confused whale which thwarted an attempt to rescue it by returning to the banks of the River Mersey has now been towed out to sea.

Harnesses were attached to the 20ft long minke whale, christened 'Widnes Willy'.

Divers used a boat to tow the giant eight miles up the river into the Irish Sea.

The operation got under way just after midnight at high tide on Saturday night.

Police, RSPCA officers and firefighters had already spent 12 hours at the previous high tide trying to free Widnes Willy from Hale Bank in Widnes, Cheshire.

Tales from the 'Atlantic Frontier' XX

Saturday 8th August

Lord of the Wings

A small part of the team starts the day rather naughtily doing Mr Len (the engineer) impressions over its breakfast. Len has travelled widely, served in the Royal Navy and has strong opinions on a variety of matters. These include, for example the lack of any real necessity to take "film star showers" in the mornings and how his old Quarter

Tales from the 'Atlantic Frontier' XIX

Thursday 6th of August.

In the Hands of the Gods 5 - Escape from Scalloway.

We saw sunshine today and were actually able to modestly peel off a couple of layers of clothing. At this point, as I start to write, the forecast is for two clear days of good weather at least. So we will be chugging northwards again, back into survey block three, the "Great Northern Block".

Puzzle inventors and crossword champions needed

Are you good at solving puzzles? How good? WDCS is looking for the best puzzle-inventors, the most confusing riddle-writers and the most lateral-thinking clue compilers. We are planning to bury some treasure and we need volunteers with twisted minds to help us cover our tracks. Interested? If you would like to take part in the biggest puzzle since Masquerade send a riddle (and the solution) with a whale and dolphin connection to

Tales from the 'Atlantic Frontier' XVIII

We make a pilgrimage.

Rather that sitting on the boat and twiddling our thumbs - doing such things as debating who should be eaten first if we get marooned somewhere (the kind of debate which can so easy turn nasty) - we hire a mini-bus and go to explore mainland Shetland. There are good whale and porpoise viewing points and it would be nice to see if any of our new seabird friends can be tracked to their nests. However, a call to the local Scottish Natural Heritage office confirms that most of the breeding birds have now gone back to sea, fledglings in tow.

Tales from the 'Atlantic Frontier' XVII

Tuesday August 4th

In the hands of the gods 2 - In the Land of Crang.

I awake again to the mewing of gulls. Yes we're still in Scalloway.

The last part of our survey has obviously brought us into prime pilot whale territory. However, it has also taken us close to the "killing grounds", the Faroe Islands, where pilot whales in their thousands are still slaughtered every year.

Whales vs: Fish? The old argument

Those who support Norwegian commercial whaling often claim that the commercial hunt should be continued because the whales are 'eating commercial fish stocks'. Scientists and conservationists alike have hotly contested this line of argument as being unsubstantiated and bogus. But it has not always just been environmentalists and individuals concerned about animal welfare that have opposed Norwegian commercial whaling.

French fishermen attempt to defend driftnetting

Fishermen from the Isle of Yeu in the Vende region are to defend tuna driftnet fishing at the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The EU driftnet ban takes effect on 1 January 2002, but the fishermen say tuna catches have been 30% higher this year and that the new law is unfair. The French national fishing committee is backing their case.

French fisheries minister Louis Le Pensec said recently that he was not willing to oppose the ban, and other fishermen and technicians are now exploring new fishing methods to replace driftnet fishing.


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