Required for biopsying a gray whale: one speed boat, one crossbow, and one Russian prime minister. Vladimir Putin recently spent some quality time in Olga Bay, helping the V.I. Il’ichev Pacific Oceanological Institute sort out the family tree for a group of gray whales.
As Nature’s blog The Great Beyond explains, the Institute hopes to determine if the whales descended from a Californian or extinct Korean whale population, and the crossbow holds a specially-designed arrow for taking a skin sample. The bold Russian prime minister, known for his shirtless fishing, fire fighting, and bear tracking, told the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS that science can be tricky but exciting:
“I had the sporting feeling, I missed the target thrice, but hit it the fourth time.”
He explained to the AP why he wanted to be involved with the project.
“Because I like it. I love the nature.”
But the International Fund for Animal Welfare isn’t buying his declaration of love for the natural world, given ongoing seismic surveys for oil drilling taking place in another area where gray whales teach their young to feed. Reuters has a statement from the IFAW:
“As Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today helped scientists research the gray whale… [state run oil firm] Rosneft, continues its two-month seismic survey in the nearby shallow waters off Sakhalin Island… which gravely threatens a subpopulation of those same whales.”
Discoblog: A Novel Geoengineering Idea: Increase the Ocean’s Quotient of Whale Poop
Discoblog: Say What? Japanese Whaling Ships Accuse Animal Planet of Ecoterrorism
80beats: Unique Russian “Plant Bank” May Be Saved by Presidential Intervention
80beats: Wayward Gray Whale Is the First Seen in Atlantic Region in Centuries