July 24, 2009

New Invention for saving stranded whales

New Zealand is a small island with many kilometers of shoreline, so we tend to get a lot of whale strandings.... as do many other places in the world, like Tasmania in Australia.

Photo by: Ilan Adler, www.Putchka.com
Photo credit: Ilan Adler. (Source: WikiMedia Commons; photograph released to public domain, 3 October 2006)

As you can imagine, this is a distressing experience for people, as after many hours of trying to keep them hydrated and breathing, many of these wonderful animals still die.

So I was really pleased to see that one of the winning inventions in the current James Dyson Design Awards is a special cover designed to keep them cool for longer. If they can be found in the area of the strandings, it should be a huge improvement on the current recommended process of placing wet sacks over them!

This competition is open to final-year tertiary students studying design, technology or engineering, and to graduates in these areas who are in their first three years of work.

The cover has special cooling gel pockets....and was designed by  industrial design graduate, Jamaine Fraser, who will attend the Creative Catalyst meeting for East Asian emerging creative entrepreneurs in Bangkok this year, as a guest of British Council New Zealand.

Eleven New Zealand entries, including the three national finalists, will progress to online judging in the international James Dyson Award competition. The global James Dyson Award winner will be announced in September 2009 and together with their university, they will win a total prize fund of £20,000 or local currency equivalent.

James Dyson, engineer and inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner: says “Design surrounds us. It inspires us. It makes more things possible. As our need for good design and technology increases so does the need for innovative and adventurous designers, engineers and scientists.
“If you think you have a way of making something better, don’t be afraid to be different, and don’t give up if people reject your ideas, trust your instincts. We want to encourage future generations of design engineers.”
All entries can be viewed on www.jamesdysonaward.org
They still do not understand why these mass strandings happen but there are plenty of ideas!

Pilot whales are among the most social marine mammals, often traveling in pods that include hundreds of individuals. Although these strong social bonds help the whales survive, their herding behavior can also lead to their demise -- as one whale emits a distress call that prompts the other members of the pod to follow. Some scientists believe that the whales become stranded when they are forced to chase prey too close to shore. Predators like killer whales can also cause "panic" within a whale pod, disorienting them and "herding" them towards the shoreline. Other researchers have suggested that the whales' echolocation system may not detect gently sloping coastlines. More controversial theories attribute whale beaching to military sonar and changes in the Earth's magnetic field, which could interfere with the animals' ability to navigate. But none of these theories have yet been proven, and the reason behind mass whale strandings is still a mystery.
 These majestic animals deserve more respect - go Greenpeace...

Sperm Whales tail with Whale Watch Kaikoura, New Zealand


  1. That's fantastic. It's so sad when they get stranded, we've even had the odd one here in the UK. I hope it helps save more whales...xxx

  2. yes, i see people frantically pouring buckets of water, but the tide keeps receding so it is really a matter of time. i hope this blanket will do wonder and save them till they are able to swim back to the ocean...
    flipper, go go go!!!

  3. Oh, how wonderful! It looks as if it would be a reasonably cheap option too! I hope they'd be cheap enough so that each marine facility would be able to keep enough, and a range of sizes too!

  4. Sounds interesting!

    If I disappear it's because I'll be internetless for a few days/weeks while the new phone line gets installed :D

  5. That's pretty cool. I've never understood the phenomenon. Poor whales!

  6. Just me but wouldn't the easy thing to do be have portable generators powering pumps to be able to soak the whales with a hose. Similar to the idea used by rural fire trucks to use creek water etc in fighting fires. Would an idea be to have such equipment mounted on all terrain vehicles to get to the whales and hose them down.

  7. I think anyone who can help to save these beautiful creatures is worth their weight in gold!!
    It must be devastating to watch them.

  8. Thats so sad and must be horrible to see :(

  9. That actually sounds sensible Sid? Not sure why that can't happen as there is plenty of water available!
    I think our Department of Conservation needs to ask for the funding to make that possible!

  10. That sounds feasible to me. There are actual devices that people can wear here in the desert to keep cool; they have little packs inside that stay cold. It's amazing what people come up with.


Comments welcome....always love to hear what you think!


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