See What Happens At A ‘Day Spa’ For Whales

2017-12-04T17:37:28+00:00 November 28, 2017|

To graduate student Sarah Fortune, the rocky crags off Baffin Island were just part of its stark beauty. Then, she saw a group of eight bowhead whales rubbing their bodies against the large boulders. Using aerial drones to watch the whales, she saw that they were using the rocks to help remove loose, dead skin.

Hundreds Of Humpback Whales Are Massing In A Tiny Spot Of Ocean. Here’s Why.

2017-10-27T17:34:27+00:00 October 27, 2017|

HALIFAX, CANADA—In the fall of 1990, a few humpback whales showed up off the coast of western South Africa where they had rarely been seen before. Over the next couple years, a few more showed up, then a few more. Today, nearly 200 of the giant ocean mammals mill around a piece of ocean smaller than a U.S. football field for several months out of the year.

A Little Giant

2017-09-22T09:17:20+00:00 September 22, 2017|

A fossil skull might indicate the location of a prehistoric whale breeding ground. Found in Hiroshima, Japan, the roughly 16 million year old fossil is of an extinct baleen whale Parietobalaena yamaokai. It’s not the only one of its kind. Multiple specimens of the Miocene mysticete have been found in this place. But what makes this cranium stand out, paleontologist Cheng-Hsiu Tsai notes, is an open suture at the back of the skull. Skulls can be a rough way to tell a mammal's age. In younger mammals, the skull bones haven’t fused together yet. There may be gaps between them, bridged by cartilage, or the sutures running between each piece are easily visible.

A Whale’s Baleen Bristles Reveal The Story Of Its Life

2017-09-07T17:29:27+00:00 September 7, 2017|

Like tree rings, these layered plates hold chemical clues to how the animals adapt to a changing world.Had he glanced over his shoulder just before the “great fish” swallowed him, biblical Jonah would have had an enviable view. Enviable, that is, if you’re Alex Werth, a landlocked biologist who studies the feeding anatomy of whales. “Ah, to be Jonah and watch baleen in action from a seat on a whale’s tongue,” he says. Baleen is the apparatus toothless whales rely on to filter food from the sea.

Study Shows Whales Dive Deeper And Longer When Exposed To Human Produced Sonar

2017-09-06T11:48:35+00:00 September 6, 2017|

A combined team of researchers from Marine Ecology and Telemetry Research and the U.S. Navy's Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division has found evidence of whales diving deeper and longer than normal when exposed to sonar from submarines and helicopters. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes their study, which included tagging whales and monitoring their behavior when exposed to artificial sonar signals.

Whales Turn Tail At Ocean Mining Noise

2017-08-22T16:28:06+00:00 August 22, 2017|

A new international study has measured the effect of loud sounds on migrating humpback whales as concern grows as oceans become noisier. Scientists have said one of the main sources of ocean noise was oil and gas exploration, due to geologists firing off loud acoustic air guns to probe the structure of the ocean floor in search of fossil fuels.

Will The Great American Eclipse Make Animals Act Strangely? Science Says Yes

2017-08-11T10:13:25+00:00 August 11, 2017|

It’s not just humans who will be affected by the Great American Eclipse coming on Aug. 21 — expect animals to act strangely too. Anecdotal evidence and a few scientific studies suggest that as the moon moves briefly between the sun and the Earth, causing a deep twilight to fall across the land, large swaths of the animal kingdom will alter their behavior.

Clever Humpbacks Move In For A Meal At Salmon Hatcheries

2017-07-19T10:15:03+00:00 July 19, 2017|

Humpback whales are skilled acrobats, emotive singers and the most ambitious migrators of all mammals. They are also incredibly creative foragers, capable of trying new approaches to catching a meal. Now, a study has found that these titans of innovation have learned to feed on salmon released from man-made hatcheries in southeast Alaska. “This is a new source of prey, as far as we can tell,” said Ellen Chenoweth, a doctoral candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and lead author of the study, published on Tuesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Why Did the Biggest Whales Get So Big?

2017-05-26T13:28:53+00:00 May 26, 2017|

The blue whale grows up to 110 feet in length. Its heart is the size of a small car. Its major artery is big enough that you could wedge a small child into it (although you probably shouldn’t). It’s an avatar of hugeness. And its size is evident if you ever get to see one up close.

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