whale tagged posts

Following Antarctic whales for climate change clues

Scientists aboard an inflatable use crossbows to study whales

Inside the bodies of humpback whales are clues about how climate change is transforming Antarctica. Our BBC science team crossed the Southern Ocean, with the researchers, on a mission to follow and study the giant whales of this remote, frozen wilderness. At 03:00 in the morning there is an almighty crash. Every drawer in our cabin is flung open and contents hurled against the wall. We hit a 12-metre wave.

I’m not a seafarer; this is alarming, but apparently not unusual on the Drake Passage – the stretch of the notoriously rough Southern Ocean we are on. We’re aboard a 200-passenger tourist ship, with a team of wildlife scientists, on our way to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Scientists in a small boat approach a humpback whale in Antarctica
Researchers follow the whales and take tissue samples to study the animals’ health 

One of the researcher...

Read More

Dolphins, whales and seals not protected by UK 

Seeing dolphins and whales in the sea enjoying their natural environment is a dream for most animal lovers. But a new report by MPs has found some marine wildlife is being failed by the UK government. Protections for these species are poorer compared to other countries, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (Efra) found. Some of the threats to these animals includes underwater noise, pollution in the water and climate change.

But these creatures play a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and help support economies which rely on coastal tourism.

The findings come as government efforts to scale up climate action have been described as “worryingly slow” by government watchdog, the Climate Change Committee.

Politicians on the Efra committee have suggested the UK ...

Read More

Deep Dive Record Smashed

A little known, shy whale has surprised scientists by staying submerged for almost four hours. Cuvier’s beaked whales are known for their abilities to dive deep and they average around an hour under water. But researchers were astounded when they recorded one animal diving for three hours and 42 minutes.

They believe that it is the longest dive yet recorded for any whale and almost certainly a record for all mammals as well.

Beaked whale species are a bit of mystery to scientists, spending much of their time far from shore. 

The Cuvier’s beaked whale has a stout body, a small sloping head and short beak...

Read More

Why Are Blue Whales So Gigantic?

“We are truly living in a time of giants.” Lofty language like this doesn’t happen often in scientific literature. But the person who wrote them, biologist Jeremy Goldbogen, understands: When it comes to writing about whales, the scale and mystery of their lives can be difficult to overstate.

For the past two decades, Goldbogen and his network of collaborators have been piecing together a puzzle: Whales are the largest animals to have ever lived—but why? The puzzle pieces were out of reach until the turn of the current century, and in only the last few years have there been enough in place to grasp the bigger picture.

We now understand that whale gigantism is tied closely to two things: one, their choice of prey, and two, the coincidence of their evolution with a global increase i...

Read More

Coronavirus: ‘The masks you throw away could end up killing a whale’

Tons of PPE from coronavirus ends up in our oceans

As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, more and more protective equipment is ending up in the sea.

Globally we are using 129 billion face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves every month, according to some estimates.

And divers and observers are spotting more of this discarded waste floating underwater, causing problems for wildlife and washing up on shorelines all over the world.


Read More

World’s Largest Marine Mammal Hospital Launches Webinars for Families and Students

Humpback whale near surface of the ocean

The May 4th debut of The Marine Mammal Center’s “Marine Mammal Mondays” webinar series will focus on marine science and ocean conservation efforts, taught by their award-winning education staff

View promotional video here

The Marine Mammal Center, based in Sausalito, CA, has announced a series of live, online, interactive learning broadcasts called “Marine Mammal Mondays.” The webinars and live Q&A sessions will take place on the first Monday of each month with a different theme. The Marine Mammal Center is the largest marine mammal hospital in the world, with their educators generating research and scientific outputs at volumes similar to top academic institutions...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

‘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...

Read More

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...

Read More