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Bottlenose dolphins © Christopher Swann

On the anniversary of the massacre of 1,423 dolphins, what’s changed?

One year ago today, 1,423 Atlantic white-sided dolphins, including mothers with calves and pregnant females,...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
A dolphin plays in front of the WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay

Sharing our Spey Bay stories – tell us yours

2022 is Scotland's Year of Stories, a year in which stories inspired by, created or...
Orcas in Australia

Did orcas help rescue entangled humpback whale?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
An orca named 'Hulk' off Caithness, Scotland

My amazing week watching orcas in Scotland

Orca Watch's 10th anniversary event in the far north of Scotland was exhilarating with a...

Faroes dolphin hunt review – disappointing is an understatement

I wasn't alone in hoping that substantial changes would be made as a result of...
Minke whale - V Mignon

We told them this would happen! Time to halt cruel whale experiments

An ill-conceived and so far ill-fated joint US/ Norwegian experiment to test minke whales' reaction...
Sponging dolphin in Shark Bay

Dolphins who catch fish with shells

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...

Tag, you’re (a nitw)it!

On May 1st, a stranded minke whale found on a New Jersey beach was “tagged” with what appear to be Greek Letters-a frat prank perhaps? While “tagging” a whale may seem like a harmless prank, it’s harmful to conservation and dangerous to the “tagger.”

I have personally written on many dead marine mammals but only when they can’t be removed from the beach.  This ensures that the same animals aren’t reported over and over again to the stranding networks as new cases.  The key is that I did so AFTER examining the animal and while wearing the proper safety gear. 

Stranded marine mammals are thoroughly examined for signs of injuries which can be subtle.  Painting the carcass can conceal a mark that may help researchers understand what happened to the animal.  Injuries consistent with vessel strikes, or entanglements, can help managers understand where areas of high risk are, and help create measures to reduce those risks. 

But perhaps the taggers are not into protecting whales and aren’t worried if they concealed injuries on the carcass.  Maybe then they should worry if they were protected when they got close to a dead whale.  Whales are mammals and, as such, we share more than the air we both breathe; we share the same risk of infection from a number of bacteria that can lead to nasty and, if not properly treated, deadly diseases.   Brucella, for example, is a fascinating encapsulated bacteria that can be transmitted to humans. If you’re lucky, it leaves you achy, depressed and unable to be a blood donor.  If you’re not so lucky, then you can only hope that whomever finds your body doesn’t have a can of spray paint in hand when they do. 

 

 

 

 

About Regina Asmutis-silvia

Executive director - WDC North America