Give Humpback Whale XOEarth Awards to eco friends and others to thank them for their past or pledged environmental actions.
Lovers of our Earth’s biosphere are invited to copy and share, or print and give, these Humpback Whale XOEarth Awards that have been dedicated to the Humpback Whale and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society [seashepherd.org].
The humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh about 36,000 kg (79,000 lb). The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is known for breaching and other distinctive surface behaviors. Males produce a complex song lasting 10 to 20 minutes, which they repeat for hours at a time.
Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25,000 km (16,000 mi) each year. Humpbacks feed in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters to breed and give birth when they fast and live off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish.
The whaling industry once hunted to the brink of extinction, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium. While they have partially recovered, entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships and noise pollution continue to impact the population of 80,000.
Humpbacks can easily be identified by their stocky body, obvious hump, black dorsal coloring and elongated pectoral fins. The head and lower jaw are covered with knobs called tubercles, which are hair follicles. Wow! Earth’s species come up with some trippy ideas, eh?
Humpbacks have 270 to 400 darkly colored baleen plates on each side of their mouths. The plates measure from 18 in (46 cm) in the front to about 3 ft (0.91 m) in the back, behind the hinge.
The female has a hemispherical lobe about 15 cm (5.9 in) in diameter in her genital region. The male’s penis usually remains hidden in the genital slit.
The humpback social structure is loose-knit. Long-term relationships between pairs or small groups, lasting months or even years, have rarely been observed.
Courtship rituals take place during the winter months, following migration toward the equator from summer feeding grounds closer to the poles. Competition is usually fierce. Unrelated males, dubbed escorts, frequently trail females, as well as cow-calf pairs. Males gather into “competition groups” around a female and fight for the right to mate with her. Behaviors include breaching, spyhopping, lob-tailing, tail-slapping, pectoral fin-slapping, peduncle throws, charging and parrying. Maybe some of us human guys should try those moves – instead of buying bling and stuff that kills the climate.
Whale song is thought to have an important role in mate selection. They may also be used between males to establish dominance. Polygamy has been observed in humpback whales, with the females having multiple male partners throughout their lifespan.
Females typically breed every two or three years. The gestation period is 11.5 months. The peak months for birth are January, February (northern hemisphere), July and August (southern hemisphere). Females wait for one- to two–years before breeding again.
Humpbacks are a friendly species that interact with other cetacean species such as bottlenose dolphins and right whales. Humpback whales appear in mixed groups with other species, such as the blue, fin, minke, gray, right and sperm whales. Incidents of humpback whales protecting other species of animals such as seals and other whales from killer whales has been documented and filmed.
Whales were once uncommon in the Mediterranean, Baltic Sea, Scotland, Skagerrak, Kattegat and some Scandinavian fjords, but have increased their presence in both waters as global populations have recovered.
A large population spreads across the Hawaiian Islands every winter, ranging from the island of Hawaii in the south to Kure Atoll in the north. They feed in areas ranging from the coast of California to the Bering Sea.
Here’s an inventive hunting technique that they use known as bubble net feeding: A group of whales swims in a shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of prey. The shrinking ring of bubbles encircles the school and confines it in an ever-smaller cylinder. This ring can begin near 30 m (98 ft) in diameter and involve the cooperation of a dozen animals. Using a crittercam attached to a whale’s back, researchers found that some whales blow the bubbles, some dive deeper to drive fish toward the surface and others herd prey into the net by vocalizing. The whales then suddenly swim upward through the “net”, mouths agape, swallowing thousands of fish in one BIG gulp.
In recognition of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society‘s super crucial work to save the awesome lifeforms in our biosphere’s oceans – including the Humpback Whale – we are honored to dedicate these Humpback Whale XOEarth Awards to Sea Shepherd.
Here are a just few reasons why we totally love the Sea Shepherd?:
Since January 1979, Sea Shepherd has embarked on over 200 voyages covering many of the world’s oceans and defending and saving defenseless marine life.
Sea Shepherd operations have saved the lives of thousands – and possibly millions – of beautiful animals around the world with their direct actions. They may have even prevented the extinction of some species with their work.
Sea Shepherd currently operates nine vessels – search “Neptune’s Navy”. Operations have included scuttling and disabling whaling vessels at harbor, intervening in Canadian and Namibian seal hunts, shining laser light into the eyes of whalers, throwing bottles of foul-smelling butyric acid onto vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizure and destruction of drift nets at sea.
Sea Shepherd’s actions have been crucial, as the international community has shown itself unwilling or unable to stop unnecessary and cruel whaling, and greedy fishing practices.
** Sea Shepherd’s Mission Statement **
“Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.
Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations.”
Again, we love that Sea Shepherd focuses primarily on direct action. [Organizations that try to use the courts and government to initiate change often fail to make any difference – especially if they have not initiated any direct action as well.
Here are two blog excerpts from just one of their operations:
** Over 100 Illegal Gill Nets pulled by the M/Y Sam Simon to date since joining Operation Milagro III in December.** Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Excerpt 1: On April 8th 2017, the M/Y Sam Simon pulled up its 100th illegal gill net from the Gulf of California, which was promptly followed by illegal gill net number 101 and number 102.
That same day, the M/V Farley Mowat pulled up 2 nets, which brought the total of illegal fishing devices retrieved from the Upper Gulf of California since last December to 200.
It is both a great result achieved by the two Sea Shepherd vessels and their crews, but at the same time, very disturbing, as this proves that there are still many nets laying under the surface. These nets kill wild animals, amongst them the endangered totoaba and the near-extinct vaquita, who suffocate when they get entangled in them.
Excerpt 2: Sea Shepherd is determined to protect the vaquita, the totoaba and all the other marine animals that deserve to live in a sea free of nets. Our drone program has been instrumental in helping us catch poachers in the act of either placing the illegal nets or hauling them in with catch. Sea Shepherd reports them to the Mexican authorities then make appropriate arrests. Should the poachers abandon these nets when they are caught in the act by the drones, Sea Shepherd removes them so the nets do not continue to inflict more death and destruction.”
Go to Sea Shepherd to see drone vids of Sea Shepherd at work to catch poachers and their illegal gill nets in the Gulf of California. Check out their drone videos that show the death and destruction that that Sea Shepherd is fighting against.
Whether it is on the ground in Taiji, patrolling the Gulf of California, or fighting poachers in the Galapagos, Sea Shepherd is working hard to protect our marine environment.
Without question, Sea Shepherd is helping get illegal fishing and poaching off the oceans – oceans that are being decimated by greedy and cruel fisherman.
** Sea Shepherd Mandate **
Sea Shepherd’s primary mandate is to assume a law enforcement role as provided by the United Nations World Charter for Nature.
This charter was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on November 9, 1982.
Excerpt from the World Charter for Nature:
21. States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:
(a) Co-operate in the task of conserving nature through common activities and other relevant actions, including information exchange and consultations
(b) Establish standards for products and other manufacturing processes that may have adverse effects on nature, as well as agreed methodologies for assessing these effects
(c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature and the protection of the environment
(d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdictions or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction
(e) Safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction
22. Taking fully into account the sovereignty of States over their natural resources, each State shall give effect to the provisions of the present Charter through its competent organs and in co-operation with other States.
23. All persons, in accordance with their national legislation, shall have the opportunity to participate, individually or with others, in the formulation of decisions of direct concern to their environment, and shall have access to means of redress when their environment has suffered damage or degradation.
24. Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter, acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present Charter are met.”
[Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s mandate to uphold the World Charter for Nature has inspired me, XOEarth Stele Ely to include this in my own personal environmental mandate as well. I also promise to keep talking up Sea Shepherd’s superb work at my eco ed shows in malls and at universities.]
We invite you to join XOEarth Stele and Sea Shepherd in making this part of your mandate as well.
Sea Shepherd also says:
“Sea Shepherd has been patrolling the high seas and enforcing conservation law worldwide for over 37 years. With your help, we have saved countless lives of dolphins, seals, whales, fish, and much more!
Your support is what drives [Sea Shepherd] enforcement and conservation efforts, strengthens [Sea Shepherd] resolve, and makes possible the successes [Sea Shepherd] achieve.
Sea Shepherd campaigns cannot happen without your help.”
If you love the oceans and love to breath [the oceans make alot of O2], we encourage you to join and volunteer with one of the Sea Shepherd crews by signing up via seashepherd.org.
For all the life, Stele Ely
XOEarth Award Printing Tips::
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There are two kinds of XOEarth Awards – Fast and Slow. Slow XOEarth Awards have a place to write the name of the person being honored, the eco action they have taken, and the name of the presenter. Fast XOEarth Awards don’t need to be filled out.
Copy and share, or print and give, these and our other XOEarth environmental awards to honor and encourage eco actions.