whale tagged posts

Engineers unlock secrets to swimming efficiency of whales, dolphins

Are captive dolphins happy?

Someday, underwater robots may so closely mimic creatures like fish that they’ll fool not only the real animals themselves but humans as well. That ability could yield information ranging from the health of fish stocks to the location of foreign watercraft. Such robots would need to be fast, efficient, highly maneuverable, and acoustically stealthy. In other words, they would have to be very much like bottlenose dolphins or killer whales.

“We’re interested in developing the next generation of underwater vehicles so we’re trying to understand how dolphins and whales swim as efficiently as they do,” says Keith W. Moored, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics in Lehigh University’s P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science...

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Decoding the songs of whales

More than 20,000 North Pacific humpback whales spend the summer months in B.C. waters, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Today, whales are a beloved icon right up there with polar bears when it comes to mascots for protecting the planet. That wasn’t the case in 1966 when biologist Roger Payne came upon a dead, beached dolphin with a cigar butt carelessly shoved in its blowhole — which shocked him enough to make it his mission to “try to find out things about them that would capture the fancy of humanity,” he says in the most recent episode of NPR’s Invisibilia.

Payne’s eventual discovery that humpback whales sing, and his tireless efforts to bring those songs to as many people as he could — calling radio stations to play the record he’d made — led to restrictions on commercial whaling. Hearing whales had transformed the way humans thought of them. This episode of Invisibilia, hosted by Alix...

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‘They’re Dying Because We’re Killing Them’

It’s been a tough start to summer for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Six were found dead last month in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Canada. Their deaths are prompting ocean officials to call for a swift response to protect the remaining 400 or so whales that are left. Part of this response came Monday night. Canadian officials announced protective measures for the right whale, including reduced ship speeds and increased aerial surveillance in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

Patrick Ramage is the director of marine conservation for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Ramage is in Washington D.C. this week with IFAW, brainstorming for ways to better protect right whales. He spoke with WGBH Radio’s Judie Yuill about the plight of the North Atlantic Right Whales...

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Mysterious surge in dead gray whales concerns scientists

Ocean scientists are concerned about dead gray whales that have washed up on the US West Coast this year at the highest rate in almost two decades. As of Thursday night, 58 gray whales have landed ashore from California to Alaska, compared to 45 for all of last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Some were underweight, leading scientists to think they did not have enough food.”Why these whales are malnourished is the mystery we are trying to unravel,” NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein said.

“Something is going on.”The last time researchers saw such high numbers was in 2000, when 131 deaths were documented.Climate change could be contributing, Milstein said. “That’s an angle they’re investigating,” he said. “We don’t know anything for sure at this time...

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Right whale protection zone is expanded

North Atlantic right whale

Vessel speed restrictions put in place to protect migrating whales have been extended to late April, according to federal officials.

The voluntary vessel speed restriction zone put in place by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also been expanded to cover areas off the coast as far north as Gloucester and around the Cape, extending down just south of Block Island, NOAA officials said on Wednesday.

The speed restriction will continue to limit boats to 10 knots or fewer, and NOAA is encouraging boaters to be extra vigilant in shipping lanes because whales have been spotted in those areas.

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Dead whale had 40kg of plastic in stomach

Dead Whale dies of plastic

A dead whale that washed up in the Philippines had 40kg (88lbs) of plastic bags inside its stomach, researchers have said. Workers at D’Bone Collector Museum recovered the Cuvier’s beaked whale east of Davao City earlier in March. In a Facebook post, the museum said the animal was filled with “the most plastic we have ever seen in a whale”.

There were 16 rice sacks in its stomach, as well as “multiple shopping bags”.

The museum will post a full list of the items found in the whale over the next few days.

“I was not prepared for the amount of plastic,” the museum’s founder and president, Darrell Blatchley, told broadcaster CNN. “It was so big, the plastic was beginning calcification.”

The use of throwaway plastic is a particular problem in some South East Asian countries, inclu...

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Conservation Groups Sue Trump Administration to Protect the Gulf of Mexico Whale

Bryde's Whale is an endangered species

Conservation groups sued several Federal agencies today, after the Administration missed deadlines to list the Gulf of Mexico whale, a subspecies of the Bryde’s whale, as an endangered species. The Gulf of Mexico whale is one of the most endangered species on the planet, with fewer than fifty whales left.

“The Trump administration’s policies target the Gulf of Mexico whale for extinction,” said Zak Smith, senior attorney with the Marine Mammal Protection Project at NRDC. “Every day these animals go unprotected from oil and gas development and other threats, we come that much closer to wiping them out. And when we lose them, we lose an important part of the Gulf’s unique natural heritage.”

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with Healthy Gulf, formerly Gul...

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Happy World Whale Day!

Humpback Whale

Giants of the ocean were celebrated on World Whale Day, which aims to raise awareness of these magnificent creatures. The annual holiday was founded in Maui, Hawaii, in 1980, to honour humpback whales, which swim off its coast. It’s the main showcase of the Maui Whale Festival.

Every year, crowds flock to the island to join in the free all-day event, organised by the Pacific Whale Foundation. The fun starts with a parade including floats, costumed characters and children’s events, plus music from Hawaiian and international stars.

However, you don’t have to visit Maui to mark this special day...

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Whale found dead with 30 Plastic bags in stomach

Stranded whale

Researchers in Norway were in for a shock when they discovered more than 30 plastic bags and other plastic waste inside the stomach of a whale. The whale, which had been put down by wardens off the coast of western Norway, had clearly consumed a huge amount of non-biodegradable waste.

Despite the grisly findings, researchers say that the plastics found in the whale are ‘not surprising’, as the amount of waste in the seas continues to grow. The whale was in poor condition, and had become stranded in shallow waters off the island of Sotra, leading to wardens putting the animal down.

Researchers from the University of Bergen analysed the whale’s stomach, and found huge amounts of plastic waste.

Dr Terje Lislevand, a zoologist who studied the whale, said: ‘The whale’s stomach was full of pla...

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Blue Whale Marine Reserve off Chilean Coast

Map of Chilean Whale Reserve

Blue whales and dolphins spending summers off the coast of southern Chile will be shielded by a new marine protected area (MPA), the largest ever established in the South American nation. The Chilean government recently announced the approval for the Tic-Toc MPA, a 90,000 hectare reserve along the country’s southern coast. The MPA encompasses one of the most biodiverse areas of the Chilean coast, and its establishment will increase Chile’s protected sea surface by 100 percent.

The announcement of the MPA is the culmination of nearly 15 years of work, according to the World Wildlife Fund, which was involved in the effort to create the reserve.

According to the WWF, MPAs are beneficial to maintaining species biodiversity and providing refuge, protecting marine habitats from destructive fis...

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