In a mysterious change to their normal behaviour, humpback whales are forming massive groups of up to 200 animals. Humpbacks aren’t normally considered to be terribly social. They are mostly found alone, in pairs, or sometimes in small groups that disband quickly.
Natacha Aguilar de Soto has studied beaked whales for 15 years. She has spent dozens of months at sea, floating above the deepest parts of the ocean, straining her eyes and ears to detect whatever might …
Being a baleen feeder isn’t easy. When baleen whales — like the enormous blue whale — gulp up a mouthful of water to filter for food, a pouch of skin under their chins stretches to accommodate the load. This stretch should hurt, but new research finds that whale nerves are specially adapted to prevent these giant beasts from feeling pain.
Only three known species go through menopause: killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, and humans. Two years ago, scientists suggested whales do this to focus their attention on the survival of their families rather than on birthing more offspring. But now this same team reports there’s another—and darker—reason: Older females enter menopause because their eldest daughters begin having calves, leading to fights over resources. The findings might also apply to humans, the scientists say.
How humpback whales use marine habitats off the eastern coast of Africa is only partially understood, and that has become a conservation concern as offshore energy exploration expands in the region. However, a new study published in Marine Ecology Progress Series found that humpback whales that were satellite tagged off the coast of Madagascar during peak breeding season are traveling much further in the southwest Indian Ocean than previously thought. This research can help define potentially sensitive areas that should be protected from the disruption of seismic testing or other industrial development that could be destructive to the humpback population and this globally important marine habitat.
Some beluga whales are adapting to climate change by changing their migratory habits, while other are not, a new study finds. Beluga whales spend the summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, and winters in the warmer Bering Sea to the south. Some beluga whales are delaying their autumn southern migration by up to four weeks, according to a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology.
A sophisticated new type of “tag” on whales that can record data every second for hours, days and weeks at a time provides a view of whale behavior, biology and travels never before possible, scientists from Oregon State University reported in a new study. This “Advanced Dive Behavior,” or ADB tag, has allowed researchers to expand their knowledge of whale ecology to areas deep beneath the sea, over thousands of miles of travel, and outline their interaction with the prey they depend upon for food.
An otherworldly noise that was recorded near the Mariana Trench could be a never-before-heard whale call. Dubbed the “Western Pacific Biotwang,” this newly discovered call might be from a minke whale — a type of baleen whale — according to the researchers who documented the vocalization. Regardless of what species it is, this whale has range: The call includes sounds that span frequencies that reach as low as 38 hertz and as high as 8,000 hertz. Humans can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz.
Marine scientists have discovered that two species of dolphin in the waters off Bangladesh are genetically distinct from those in other regions of the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, a finding that supports a growing body of evidence that the Bay of Bengal harbors conditions that drive the evolution of new life forms, according to a new study by the American Museum of Natural History(AMNH), WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), and the cE3c — Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes (Universidade de Lisboa).
Scientists have long used satellite tags to track blue whales along the West Coast, learning how the largest animals on the planet find enough small krill to feed on to support their enormous size. Now researchers from NOAA Fisheries, Oregon State University and the University of Maryland have combined that trove of tracking data with satellite observations of ocean conditions to develop the first system for predicting locations of blue whales off the West Coast. The system, called WhaleWatch, produces monthly maps of blue whale “hotspots” to alert ships where there may be an increased risk of encountering these endangered whales.
It’s something all whale-watchers yearn to see. The sight of whales breaking the surface and slapping their fins on the water is a true spectacle – but the animals don’t do it just for show. Instead, it appears that all that splashing is about messaging other whales, and the big splashes are for long-distance calls. Ailbhe Kavanagh at the University of Queensland in Gatton, Australia, and her colleagues studied 94 different groups of humpback whales migrating south along the Queensland coast in 2010 and 2011.
Two captive harbour porpoises called Freja and Sif have helped to reveal that porpoises —and probably all cetaceans — consciously adjust their heart rate to suit the length of a planned dive.