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The Guardian (UK): Animal Rescue: Western Pacific grey whale

There are now just a few thousand tigers left. Seven hundred mountain gorillas. A hundred Iberian lynx. Can we do anything to help them? Emine Saner looks at 10 animals we just have to save – and how you can get involved

Friday February 2, 2007

Western Pacific grey whale

The Eastern Pacific grey whale, which travels along the west coast of America, has bounced back in recent years. But not its Western cousin. There are just 100 of them left in the world – and just two dozen or so females of breeding age. Their only feeding ground is around Sakhalin Island, off the far eastern coast of Russia, and thanks to Shell (and now Russia’s energy giant Gazprom), their survival looks increasingly unlikely.

A huge gas and oil platform development is being built there, and is due to start operations next year. The project was being led by Shell until December, when it ceded control to Gazprom. It retains a 27.5% stake. An independent panel of whale experts said the development posed a “potentially catastrophic threat” to the whales. The pipelines cause noise disturbance and damage to their feeding ground, while the project puts the whales in danger of spillages and being hit by ships.

“Our concern is that they didn’t follow the impact assessments as closely as they should have done,” says Mark Wright of WWF.

What can we do?

Write to James Smith, chairman of Shell UK (Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA) and ask him to explain the company’s stance. It probably wouldn’t hurt to boycott Shell garages too. The Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi also own stakes in the project. Gazprom hopes to have a 10% share of the UK’s energy market by 2010, so voice your concerns to its UK subsidiary (Gazprom, Camellia House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5BB or The Royal Bank of Scotland is one of the banks that might finance the controversial project, after the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development recently said it would not provide a loan.

For more information, visit Sakhalin Environment Watch (

For the whole Guardian article go to…,,2004276,00.html and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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