Posted yesterday (2008-10-17 20:56:22 -0500); deserving of a second look. -- GH.
A beluga’s mouth is permanently upturned like a smile. It’s easy to connect with these sociable whales ...
Often called "canaries of the sea," beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) broadcast squeals, trills, chirps and other sounds through their blowholes. ... These vocalizations can be communications between animals. They might also be used to echo-locate, or interpret the sound waves that bounce back to discern what food or obstacles are ahead.
Belugas live in the frigid waters near the Arctic Circle.
Maybe the times really are changing, because those Belugas just won a Big Victory against none other, than the "Pals of Big Oil" ...
In these frantic times of non-stop campaigning, our Nation's new "Energy Expert", has lost her bid to secure Off-shore Drilling real estate, for her pals, in her own home state!
And the group putting a halt, to her planned give away of Oil Leases -- none other than, some outstanding government officials, at NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service:
Government declares beluga whale endangered
By H. JOSEF HEBERT – Oct 17, 2008
WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government on Friday placed the beluga whales in Alaska's Cook Inlet under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, concluding that a decade-long recovery program has failed to assure their survival.
"In spite of protections already in place, Cook Inlet beluga whales are not recovering," said James Balsiger, acting assistant administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The findings by NOAA's National Marines Fisheries Service conflict with claims by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has questioned scientific evidence that the beluga whale population in the waters near Anchorage continues to decline.
Palin, Republican presidential nominee John McCain's running mate, has strongly objected to the federal government's possible declaration of the whale as endangered.
Hurrah! for government officials who step up and do the Right thing in spite of political pressure, to do otherwise.
Los Angeles Times
Bush administration declares Alaska's Beluga whales endangered
Kenneth R. Weiss – Oct 17, 2008
As a practical matter, the new protections mean that new offshore oil drilling, a new bridge and other industrial activities that involve federal dollars or scrutiny will have to show that they will not harm the estimated 375 beluga whales that remain in local waters.
Palin was especially concerned, she said, that "an unnecessary federal listing and designation of critical habitat would do serious long-term damage to the vibrant economy of the Cook Inlet area."
The Cook Inlet beluga population, one of five populations recognized in U.S. waters, is the most urban. More than half of Alaska's human population lives in Anchorage and surrounding areas, releasing minimally treated municipal sewage and polluted urban runoff into the inlet.
Other potential stresses on the beluga population are offshore oil and gas development, two busy ports with ship traffic, an active salmon gill net fishery and predation from killer whales, federal scientists said.
"We have a dozen oil rigs in the inlet now and municipal waste that gets primary treatment only," Mahoney said. More offshore oil development is under consideration for Cook Inlet, which lies between the Alaska and Kenai peninsulas.
Federal protections came in response to a petition for the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit conservation group, and a lawsuit by five conservation groups last summer over what they called "illegal" delays.
A spokeswoman for the governor said her office will issue a comment on the federal protections later.
Too often Free Marketeers, in their blind ambition for endless profits, forget that we live on a fragile world, one that we share with many other very social creatures! If they ever stopped to take into account of the long-term results of their mindless Corporate Quest, would they always be so quick to tap into -- every. last. resource? (No matter which Canaries they might trample in the process?)
Naturally sociable, belugas often chase or rub against one another. They travel in pods of three to 10 whales. Calves imitate adults to learn life skills.
A beluga’s mouth is permanently upturned like a smile. It’s easy to connect with these sociable whales as they glide by in their Oceanarium pool: They might turn a curious gaze your way, crinkle their melons (foreheads) and whistle—or even spit a stream of water!
Chalk up 1 Whale of a Victory for the Planet --
and a Big 0 for those Pals of Big Oil!
SO Sorry Sarah!! The planet DOES Matter!