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Blue Whales

July 27, 2011 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
Reporting from the Channel Islands -- Natalie Senyk and Ben Waltenberger peered out the bubble-shaped windows of the small research plane flying 1,000 feet over the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and scanned the ocean surface for signs of life. On that bright, windy day earlier this month, the federal scientists were looking, in particular, for blow holes or the gigantic, gray outline of surfacing whales. Photos: Separating whales and ships The aerial survey is part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration mission to learn more about the movement of whales and to devise ways to keep them away from the container ships, fishing vessels, barges and sailboats that have been colliding with them at a rate of six a year in California.
October 26, 2004 | Dexter Ford, Special to The Times
I STOP PADDLING FIVE miles off the Palos Verdes shoreline, with half a mile of water beneath me. My momentum dies along with the burbling, slapping noise that goes with it. Gulls and grebes shrill and chatter in the distance; cresting swells whisper; jets whine high overhead. My adrenaline stirs for an instant until I realize, false alarm, that the beard stubble rustling against my life jacket sounds very much like a blue whale's heavy breathing.
October 2, 2007 | Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer
With test results in hand, scientists have ruled out a neurotoxin that had been their best bet to explain why three blue whales were killed recently in ship collisions off Southern California. Their working theory had been that whales disoriented by the toxin were unable to avoid freighters and tankers inadvertently bearing down on them.
July 3, 2008 | Pete Thomas
It's a bizarre yet wondrous sight: a 40-foot humpback whale holding position only a few feet beside a 75-foot catamaran. The whale's radiant white pectoral fins are spread like wings. Its massive body rolls gently as this great leviathan casts a curious glance toward its gawking admirers. It's one of two "friendlies" providing passengers aboard the Condor Express with encounters so close they can hardly believe their eyes. "I would do this every day, in a heartbeat, if I could afford it," says Ginny Harris, a tourist from Morehead City, N.C. "I live on the East Coast and we have dolphins, but I have never seen whales -- and certainly nothing like this."
It was a sunny, perfect January day on Point Conception, 40 miles west of Santa Barbara. From the top of the hill, I had a spectacular 360-degree view of unspoiled coastal mountains, a sunrise and sunset over the ocean. All morning my therapist Caroline Grierson and I had been watching for migrating gray whales. Suddenly, there they were, more than a half a dozen of them, making their winter migration toward Baja California.
Captain Fred Benko set his usual course, for the west end of Santa Cruz Island, largest of the Channel Islands chain, where, he tells his passengers, they probably will encounter "the largest creatures ever to inhabit the Earth." Aboard the Condor, an 88-foot vessel of considerable bulk, are 98 passengers, a full tank of gas and enough food to feed a small army.
June 13, 1989 | JANE FRITSCH, Times Staff Writer
The International Whaling Commission's scientific committee released a grim report Monday in San Diego, indicating that the populations of some whale species are much smaller than previously thought. The most seriously depleted is the blue whale, the Earth's largest animal, whose number is estimated at 453, but could be as low as 200. Before the advent of widespread commercial whaling, there were an estimated 250,000 blue whales in Antarctic waters. Recent estimates had put their numbers at 6,000 to 11,000.
September 23, 2007 | Steve Chawkins, Times Staff Writer
The blue whale found dead last week in the Santa Barbara Channel was probably the third victim of a ship collision in two weeks, scientists said Saturday as they conducted a post-mortem on the 60-ton creature. As surf roiled around the massive carcass on a beach at Point Mugu, biologists cut doorway-size openings in its belly and probed its organs for tissue specimens.
May 17, 2002 | PETE THOMAS
This is shaping up to be a wildly interesting season on and beyond the waterfront. In the Santa Barbara area, where an unusually long salmon run remains in progress, whales have stolen the spotlight. Sleek and magnificent blue whales, the largest creatures on the planet, have arrived almost a month early in the Santa Barbara Channel, where they're foraging on krill, tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that are turning large patches of channel waters blood-red.
February 25, 1990 | Campbell Plowden, Plowden was the whale-campaign coordinator for Greenpeace USA from 1988 to 1989; he has been involved full-time in the "Save the Whales" movement and environmental work since 1977. and
Can the whales really survive? If someone reading "The Last Whales" were somehow ignorant of the myriad dangers that whales and dolphins now face in their battle for survival, he might think that Canadian poet Lloyd Abbey had conjured up a Stephen King-style account to scare whales out of their blubber. While Abbey's work is fictional, the novel's background is grounded in grisly truth and more or less plausible projections.
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