Dolphin and Whale News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on dolphins and whales
Late last year, fishermen began finding dead dolphins, hundreds of them, washed up on Peru’s northern coast. Now, seabirds have begun dying, too, and the government has yet to conclusively pinpoint a cause. Officials insist that the two die-offs are unrelated. The dolphins are succumbing to a virus, they suggest, and the seabirds are dying of starvation because anchovies are in short supply. There is growing suspicion among the public and scientists that there might be more to the story. Some argue that offshore oil exploration could be disturbing wildlife, for example, and others fear that biotoxins or pesticides might be working their way up the food chain. At least 877 dolphins and more than 1,500 birds, most of them brown pelicans and boobies, have died since the government began tracking the deaths in February, the Environment Ministry said last week. The dolphins, many of which appeared to have decomposed in the ocean before washing ashore, were found in the Piura and Lambayeque regions, not far from the border with Ecuador. The seabirds, which seem mostly to have died onshore, have been found from Lambayeque to Lima. In offshore seismic testing, ships tow arrays of air guns that release high-pressure air under water, producing sound waves that can be analyzed to locate oil and gas deposits deep under the ocean floor.
Note: A San Francisco Chronicle article on this states, "All of the 20 or so animals ... examined showed middle-ear hemorrhage and fracture of the ear's periotic bone. ... Most of the dolphins apparently were alive when they beached." Clearly sonic blasts of some sort are driving these intelligent animals to beach themselves and commit suicide. For clear evidence that this is the result of oil exploration, click here. For lots more from major media sources on the threats to marine mammals from human activities, click here. And for more on the mysterious mass animal deaths occurring worldwide, click here.
A new study of dolphins living close to the site of North America's worst ever oil spill – the BP Deepwater Horizon catastrophe two years ago – has established serious health problems afflicting the marine mammals. The report, commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], found that many of the 32 dolphins studied were underweight, anaemic and suffering from lung and liver disease. More than 200m gallons of crude oil flowed from the well after a series of explosions on 20 April 2010, which killed 11 workers. The spill contaminated the Gulf of Mexico and its coastline in what President Barack Obama called America's worst environmental disaster. The research follows the publication of several scientific studies into insect populations on the nearby Gulf coastline and into the health of deepwater coral populations, which all suggest that the environmental impact of the five-month long spill may have been far worse than previously appreciated. The study of the dolphins ... followed two years in which the number of dead dolphins found stranded on the coast close to the spill had dramatically increased. Although all but one of the 32 dolphins were still alive when the study ended, lead researcher Lori Schwacke said survival prospects for many were grim. A study of deep ocean corals seven miles from the spill source jointly funded by the NOAA and BP has found dead and dying corals coated "in brown gunk". Chemical analysis of oil found on the dying coral showed that it came from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
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Dolphins have been declared the world's second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as "non-human persons". Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence. The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year. "Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size," said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates. Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, who has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, [said], "The scientific research ... suggests that dolphins are â€non-human persons' who qualify for moral standing as individuals."
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The songs that whales and dolphins use to communicate, orient themselves and find mates are being drowned out by human-made noises in the world's oceans. That sound pollution -- everything from increasing commercial shipping and seismic surveys to a new generation of military sonar -- is not only confounding the mammals, it also is further threatening the survival of these endangered animals. Studies show that these cetaceans, which once communicated over thousands of miles to forage and mate, are losing touch with each other, ... experts said at a U.N. wildlife conference in Rome. "Call it a cocktail-party effect," said Mark Simmonds, director of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, a Britain-based NGO. "You have to speak louder and louder until no one can hear each other anymore." Environmental groups also are increasingly finding cases of beached whales and dolphins that can be linked to sound pollution, Simmonds said. Marine mammals are turning up on the world's beaches with tissue damage similar to that found in divers suffering from decompression sickness. Scientists say the use of military sonar or seismic testing may have scared the animals into diving and surfacing beyond their physical limits. Several species of cetaceans are already listed as endangered or critically endangered from other causes, including hunting, chemical pollution, collisions with boats and entanglements with fishing equipment. Though it is not yet known precisely how many animals are affected, sound pollution is increasingly being recognized as a serious factor, the experts said.
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Anti-submarine sonar may have killed a group of whales found dead in the Hebrides in one of Britain's most unusual strandings, scientists believe. Five Cuvier's beaked whales, a species rarely seen in British waters, were discovered on beaches in the Western Isles on succeeding days in February. Another animal from a related species was discovered at the same time. Experts consider such a multiple stranding to be highly abnormal. The main suspect in the case is sonar, as it is known that beaked whales are highly sensitive to the powerful sound waves used by all the world's navies to locate underwater objects such as submarines. Groups of beaked whales have been killed, with sonar suspected as the direct cause, several times in recent years; well-documented incidents include anti-submarine exercises in Greece in 1996, the Bahamas in 2000 and the Canary Islands in 2002. Britain's Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society has now submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Defence over the Hebridean strandings. The 21 species of beaked whale include some of the world's most rarely seen mammals; they are also the deepest-diving air-breathing animals. A Cuvier's beaked whale set the record for a deep dive two years ago: 1,899 metres, or 6,230ft, beneath the surface, holding its breath for an astonishing 85 minutes. The animals use these deep dives to forage, but when sonar gets involved, their remarkable habit may be their undoing. One theory is that the whales are so distressed by the intensely loud sound waves that they return too quickly to the surface, and in doing so, fatally suffer "the bends" – the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood which can kill human divers.
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The Navy is refusing to detail its sonar use for a federal court in a case involving potential harm to whales, saying the information could jeopardize national security. The Natural Resources Defense Council is suing the Navy to ensure sailors use sonar in a way that doesn't harm whales and other marine mammals. Critics say active sonar, which sailors use by pumping sound through water and listening for objects the sound bounces off of, can strand and even kill marine mammals. A U.S. Congressional Research Service report last year found Navy sonar exercises had been responsible for at least six mass deaths and unusual behavior among whales. Many of the beached or dead animals had damaged hearing organs. In considering the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper issued an order for the Navy to submit data for the case on when and where sailors have used sonar since 2003. The Navy said in its new release that it refused to comply citing state secrets privilege. Joel Reynolds, a Natural Resources Defense Council attorney, said he would challenge the Navy's position. "This latest invocation of state secret privilege is one more attempt to deprive the public of the information it needs to determine whether the Navy is illegally and needlessly endangering the marine environment," Reynolds said.
Note: What this and almost all other media articles on this subject fail to mention is that traditional radar used used since before WWII does not harm whales and dolphins. It is only sophisticated new systems that are causing mass deaths of these intelligent mammals around the world.
The discovery of a newborn blue whale on West Australia's south coast is a "game changer", according to scientists studying the ocean giants, who say the species has no known breeding grounds in Australian waters. The juvenile was spotted with its mother just a few hundred metres off the coast near Bremer Bay, about 500 kilometres south-east of Perth, at the weekend. It may be the first blue whale born in Australian waters. Marine biologist Brodee Elsdon said the subspecies pygmy blue whales were often spotted migrating along the west coast, but rarely during this time of year, so close to shore or with a recently born calf. Pia Markovich, who was on board the vessel which spotted the pair, said the calf appeared to be very young. "Seeing a blue whale is one thing, but to have a mother and calf [is] next level," she said. "And for the calf to be so small, well that's like winning the wildlife lotto. "At first glance, puzzled passengers looked to the crew to understand the significance of this encounter. "Our faces would have said it all, jaws dropped and minds blown." Ms Elsdon said the sighting could help develop scientists' understanding of blue whale migration and breeding. There are no known breeding grounds for these giants in Australian waters. "We predict the breeding grounds for pygmy blue whale are all the way in Indonesia waters, so to have one born this early and in the Southern Ocean, changes everything we know," she said.
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The Trump administration is preparing to take an important step toward future oil and natural gas drilling off the Atlantic shore, approving five requests from companies to conduct deafening seismic tests that could harm tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals. The ... announcement by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the Commerce Department, to issue "incidental take" permits allowing companies to harm wildlife is likely to further antagonize a dozen governors in states on the Eastern Seaboard who strongly oppose the administration's proposal to expand federal oil and gas leases to the Atlantic. Federal leases could lead to exploratory drilling for the first time in more than half a century. In addition to harming sea life, acoustic tests — in which boats tugging rods pressurized for sound emit jet-engine-like booms 10 to 12 seconds apart for days and sometimes months — can disrupt thriving commercial fisheries. Seismic testing maps the ocean floor and estimates the whereabouts of oil and gas, but only exploratory drilling can confirm their presence. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill that soiled the Gulf of Mexico resulted from an exploratory drill. Nearly 2.5 million dolphins would be harassed or possibly killed by acoustic sound blasts each year in the ... Atlantic, and nearly half a million pilot whales would be impacted. The Obama administration denied six permits for seismic testing weeks before Trump took office ... out of concern for wildlife and fisheries.
Japanese fishermen drove a large group of dolphins into the shallows ... and, hiding from reporters and TV cameras behind a tarpaulin, killed at least 30 as the annual dolphin hunt that sparked protest in the West entered its final stages. Both the U.S. and British ambassadors to Japan have strongly criticized the "drive killings" of dolphins citing the "terrible suffering" inflicted on the marine mammals. Every year the fishermen of Taiji, in western Wakayama prefecture, drive hundreds of dolphins into a cove, select some for sale to marine parks, release some and kill the rest for meat. On Tuesday, at least 30 dolphins out of the group of more than 200 held in the cove since Friday were herded by boat engines and nets into a killing area of the Taiji cove. Before the killing began, fishermen pulled a tarpaulin in front of the cove to prevent activists and reporters from seeing the killing. A large pool of blood seeped under the tarpaulin and spread across the cove. "A metal rod was stabbed into their spinal cord, where they were left to bleed out, suffocate and die. After a traumatic four days held captive in the killing cove, they experienced violent captive selection, being separated from their family, and then eventually were killed today," Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activist Melissa Sehgal told Reuters. The annual hunt has long been a source of controversy and was the topic of "The Cove", an Oscar-winning documentary that brought Taiji into the international spotlight.
Note: For more on the devastation of marine mammal populations by human activities, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Federal wildlife officials raised a formal alarm on [August 8] over the deaths of scores of bottlenose dolphins in waters off the east coast, saying that a fast-spreading infection could be attacking dolphin populations from New York to Virginia. At least 124 of the mammals have washed onto beaches since July, all of them dead or dying, a spokeswoman for the National Marine Fisheries Service said. The agency, which is responsible for monitoring and protecting marine mammals, declared the deaths to be an “unusual mortality event,” opening the way for federal help in finding the cause. In July alone, 89 dolphins were beached, seven times the usual number. Tests on one dolphin carcass have uncovered possible signs of morbillivirus, an infection similar to canine distemper that ravaged East Coast dolphins over a 10-month span in 1987 and 1988. More than 700 dolphins were stranded from New Jersey to Florida during that outbreak, one of the worst on record. But news reports state that other dolphins stranded this summer had pneumonia, and officials said that it could take weeks to pin down the precise cause, if one is found. Unusual mortality events are declared when a marine mammal die-off is judged unexpected, large and in need of immediate attention. Investigators have failed to find a cause of death in roughly half the 60 mortality events declared since the first one in 1991. There are undoubtedly more dead or sick animals at sea that have gone undetected, officials said. The bulk of the deaths, at least 64, have occurred off the coast of Virginia. At least 18 strandings have been recorded in New York waters and 26 off New Jersey.
Note: For additional details about the mysterious deaths of dolphins, manatees and pelicans on the East Coast, click here. For more on mysterious mass deaths of animals, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Navy plans to increase ocean warfare exercises, conduct more sonar tests and expand coastal training areas by hundreds of square miles — activities that could harass, injure or disturb the habitats of hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, federal records show. The Navy is seeking federal permits to broaden an existing range off the Pacific Northwest and dramatically expand exercises and sonar use in the Gulf of Alaska. The Navy's plans have ignited a debate with environmental groups that say the service underestimates the long-term impact of its activities and fails to restrict training sufficiently in marine sanctuaries and other areas where it is likely to affect sensitive species. The plans to expand training off the Pacific Northwest, where the service's exercise areas reach into the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, have drawn about 3,500 public comments, most in opposition. Critics of the Navy's plans point to its use of new sonar systems that can disrupt marine mammals' brain function and behavior, noting that even brief disorientation or other "temporary" effects can have serious consequences, such as changes in reproductive activity. Among the most serious concerns is the potential for whales to strand themselves on beaches: Since 2000, there have been at least four instances in which mass strandings of whales have been associated with the Navy's sonar use, federal records show.
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A Sunday Times investigation has exposed Japan for bribing small nations with cash and prostitutes to gain their support for the mass slaughter of whales. The undercover investigation found officials from six countries were willing to consider selling their votes on the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The revelations come as Japan seeks to break the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling. An IWC meeting that will decide the fate of thousands of whales, including endangered species, begins this month in Morocco. Japan denies buying the votes of IWC members. However, The Sunday Times filmed officials from pro-whaling governments admitting: - They voted with the whalers because of the large amounts of aid from Japan. One said he was not sure if his country had any whales in its territorial waters. Others are landlocked. – They receive cash payments in envelopes at IWC meetings from Japanese officials who pay their travel and hotel bills. - One disclosed that call girls were offered when fisheries ministers and civil servants visited Japan for meetings. Barry Gardiner, an MP and former Labour biodiversity minister, said the investigation revealed "disgraceful, shady practice", which is "effectively buying votes".
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The United States is facing increasing international pressure to place limitations on the use of military sonar ... that has been linked to mass strandings of whales. The European Union Parliament -- the most prominent of four international bodies that have taken up the matter in recent months -- called in October for its member states to develop a moratorium on all types of military sonars, which use powerful sound to locate objects such as submarines. According to studies cited by the EU and the other world bodies, noise can interfere with the survival of the ocean creatures that depend on sound to navigate, find food, locate mates, avoid predators and communicate with one another. At high decibel levels, noise can kill. The U.S. Navy is the biggest user of midfrequency active sonar in the world -- and government officials have been loath to require permits to regulate its use. In more than a dozen instances dating back to the 1960s, however, whales have stranded themselves on the beaches and sometimes died at the time of naval training exercises miles away using midfrequency active sonar. An unprecedented stranding of 16 beaked and minke whales in the Bahamas in 2000 brought worldwide attention to military sonar. A NOAA investigation concluded that a Navy testing maneuver using midfrequency sonar -- by far the most commonly used type of sonar -- was the likely cause. Necropsies found signs of brain hemorrhaging, which is consistent with injury from sound.
Navy training and testing could inadvertently kill hundreds of whales and dolphins and injure thousands over the next five years, mostly as a result of detonating explosives underwater, according to two environmental impact statements released by the military [on August 30]. The Navy said that the studies focused on waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii from 2014 through 2019, the main areas that the service branch tests equipment and trains sailors. Most of the deaths would come from explosives, though some might come from testing sonar or animals being hit by ships. According to the reports, computer models show it may kill 186 whales and dolphins off the East Coast and 155 off Hawaii and Southern California. But Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the Navy was underestimating the effect its activities on marine mammals. For example, he pointed to a study by government and private sector scientists published just last month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society showing mid-frequency active sonar can disrupt blue whale feeding. The study says feeding disruptions and the movement of whales away from their prey could significantly affect the health of individual whales and the overall health of baleen whale populations. Jasny said the Navy's ocean activities are "simply not sustainable." "These smaller disruptions short of death are themselves accumulating into something like death for species and death for populations," Jasny said.
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White House officials for more than a year have blocked a rule aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales by challenging the findings of government scientists, according to documents obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The documents, which were mailed to the environmental group by an unidentified National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official, illuminate a struggle that has raged between the White House and NOAA for more than a year. In February 2007, NOAA issued a final rule aimed at slowing ships traversing some East Coast waters to 10 knots or less during parts of the year to protect the right whales, but the White House has blocked the rule from taking effect. North Atlantic right whales, whose surviving population numbers fewer than 400, are one of the most endangered species on Earth, and scientists have warned that the loss of just one more pregnant female could doom the species. Some shipping companies have opposed the NOAA proposal, saying slowing their vessels will cost the industry money. The documents, which House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) released yesterday, show that the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Vice President Cheney's office repeatedly questioned whether the rule was needed. Waxman, who sent a letter to the White House asking for an explanation, said the exchange "appears to be the latest instance of the White House ignoring scientists and other experts." Since NOAA initially proposed the regulation, at least three right whales have died from ship strikes and two have been wounded by propellers.
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A dolphin swam up to two distressed whales that appeared headed for death in a beach stranding in New Zealand and guided them to safety, witnesses said. The actions of the bottlenose dolphin -- named Moko by residents who said it spends much of its time swimming playfully with humans at the beach -- amazed would-be rescuers and an expert who said they were evidence of the species' friendly nature. The two pygmy sperm whales, a mother and her calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach, about 500 kilometers (300 miles) northeast of the capital of Wellington, said Conservation Department worker Malcolm Smith. Rescuers worked for more than one hour to get the whales back into the water, only to see them strand themselves four times on a sandbar slightly out to sea. It looked likely the whales would have to be euthanized to prevent them suffering a prolonged death, Smith said. "They kept getting disorientated and stranding again," said Smith, who was among the rescuers. "They obviously couldn't find their way back past (the sandbar) to the sea." Along came Moko, who approached the whales and led them 200 meters (yards) along the beach and through a channel out to the open sea. "Moko just came flying through the water and pushed in between us and the whales," Juanita Symes, another rescuer, told The Associated Press. "She got them to head toward the hill, where the channel is. It was an amazing experience. The best day of my life." Smith speculated that Moko responded after hearing the whales' distress calls. "They had arched their backs and were calling to one another, but as soon as the dolphin turned up they submerged into the water and followed her."
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Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark ... had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone. That’s when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life. The attack occurred ... at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif. “Truly a miracle,” Endris [said]. “[It] came out of nowhere. Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark.” The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn’t get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. “The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso — sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth,” Endris said. That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, “like a banana peel.” But because Endris’ stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected. The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris’ right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark’s grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go. The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore. No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. The shark went on its way, protected inside the waters of the park, which is a marine wildlife refuge. Endris wouldn’t want it any other way. “I wouldn’t want to go after the shark anyway,” he said. “We’re in his realm, not the other way around.”
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The U.S. Navy wants to teach sailors how to hunt submarines off the coast of Jacksonville, but it's trying to prove its proposed undersea-warfare-training range won't hurt the world's most endangered whale. Concern about harm to the North Atlantic right whale from military sonar, vessels and torpedoes might pose a stumbling block to the proposed $100 million training range, which could be built near the whale's protected calving area. The U.S. Navy announced earlier this year that it wants to build the undersea-warfare-training range in a 662-square-mile zone nearly 58 miles off Jacksonville. Environmentalists fear whales could die from being run over by ships or becoming disoriented from the sonar. "Under federal law, environmental issues have to be placed on par with other national interests, including economic concerns and military training," said Michelle B. Nowlin, supervising attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at the Duke University School of Law. "The courts have been very clear there must be a balance of those interests." Federal reports say the death of even one pregnant female could risk the species' survival. That's why more than a dozen conservation groups have opposed a permanent range for the sonar-based warfare training near the calving grounds. Military sonar, broadcasting an active midfrequency signal at 235 decibels, has a lethal history, with a dozen cases worldwide of mass whale and dolphin strandings and evidence of damage to their hearing after underwater exercises.
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Hundreds of dead dolphins washed up Friday along the shore of a popular tourist destination on Zanzibar's northern coast, and scientists ruled out poisoning. The bottleneck dolphins, which live in deep offshore waters, had empty stomachs, meaning that they could have been disoriented and were swimming for some time to reorient themselves. They did not starve to death and were not poisoned. In the United States, experts were investigating the possibility that sonar from U.S. submarines could have been responsible for a similar incident in Marathon, Florida, where 68 deep-water dolphins stranded themselves in March 2005. A U.S. Navy task force patrols the East Africa coast as part of counterterrorism operations.
Federal marine specialists have concluded that Navy sonar was the most likely cause of the unusual stranding of melon-headed whales in a Hawaiian bay in 2004. The appearance of as many as 200 of the normally deep-diving whales in Hanalei Bay in Kauai occurred while a major American-Japanese sonar training exercise was taking place. The report is the latest in a series of scientific reviews linking traditional mid-frequency naval sonar to whale strandings. The active sonar used by navies sends out loud pings of sound that seem to frighten and disorient whales. The effect was documented off Greece in 1996 and established later during naval exercises in the Bahamas, off the Canary Islands and off Spain. In the 2000 Bahamas stranding, a local marine biologist collected some of the whales that died onshore and froze them for later study -- which helped NOAA conclude that sonar was the likely cause. Michael Jasny, a senior consultant with NRDC, said the NOAA report was worrisome. "Once again, the Navy's denial has been contradicted by the official government investigation. It's time for the Navy to stop this needless infliction of harm."
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