Whale Science

Russian ship played classical music to rescue entrapped belugas

The Moskva was the largest and most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker at her delivery time. She got international attention in 1985 when she herded around 2000 ice-entrapped belugas back to the open sea … by playing classical music. Yes, you read that right! What is an icebreaker? An icebreaker is a class of ships that can […]

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Whales and Dolphins Uniting for Survival, Bounty, or Companionship?

Cetaceans like whales, dolphins, and porpoises form interspecies associations for predator deterrence, predator avoidance, foraging, and socialization. These behaviors can involve thousands in a pod, with practices like coordinated feeding and shifts for vigilance against predators. Such alliances may also have aspects like alloparenting and possible interspecies communication, showcasing complex social dynamics and cooperative strategies among different species within the marine environment.

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Toxic chemicals from plastics found in Norwegian marine mammals

Plasticizers added to plastics give them their properties, but these chemicals can leach into the oceans and harm marine life. Recent studies found plastic chemicals in marine mammals in Norway, raising concerns about their prevalence and impact. To help, reduce plastic use, recycle, and support policies to ban harmful chemicals and protect ocean creatures.

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Why are baby whales and dolphins born with whiskers?

Vibrissae, or whiskers, are found in most mammals, including cetaceans like dolphins, whales, and porpoises. These were likely inherited from terrestrial ancestors, serving as sensory organs during these species’ evolution from land to water. While in many cetaceans, whiskers disappear as they mature, leaving behind small cavities termed ‘vibrissal crypts’, certain species, such as the Amazon river dolphin, retain them, helping in food detection and possibly electroreception.

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Harbor porpoise calves ingest toxic chemicals through their mother’s milk

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), though banned, remain a threat to marine ecosystems, particularly damaged the harbor porpoises in the North Sea. A study found that these porpoises consume high concentrations of such pollutants while feeding, compromising their health and reproduction. Transferred from mothers to calves through lactation, these chemicals, such as PCBs, pose a major concern for the future population of these marine mammals. This calls for enhanced conservation strategies and more responsible individual actions.

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Florida Manatees -Tough on the outside, but not invincible

Manatees, affectionately known as “sea cows” or “mermaids,” are peaceful herbivorous giants found in fresh and saltwater coastal areas. Despite lacking natural predators in the case of the West Indian Manatees (the ones we find in North America), their population numbers are not as robust as one might expect. This post will shed light on

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Toxic Menus: Contaminants Threaten the Health of North Atlantic Killer Whales

In a ground-breaking new study just published in Environmental Science & Technology, a disturbing picture of contamination among North Atlantic killer whales has emerged. Persistent organic contaminants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides (DDTs, Chlordanes, etc.), and flame retardants, were detected at alarming levels in these apex marine predators. This study sheds light on the

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Unlocking the Secrets of Female Common Dolphin Reproduction in New Zealand

Understanding the life history of organisms helps us learn how they grow and develop traits that help them survive in their environment. It also reveals how vulnerable a population can be if certain behaviors and traits put them at risk of extinction. In our rapidly changing world, studying a species’ life history is important to

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Baby killer whales face many challenges in their first year

We just heard the news that a new killer whale baby was born into the L-pod of the critically endangered Southern Resident population. While we’re delighted to hear about the birth of a new killer whale calf, it’s important to be cautious. Unfortunately, newborn killer whales have a high mortality rate within their first six

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What do killer whales eat in the North Atlantic? Fat’s the question!

Here is a killer whale fact for you: despite decades of intensive research, we still do not know for sure what killer whales eat in most regions of the world. Killer whales are top predators, and the amount and types of animals they eat can greatly impact a whole ecosystem. To figure out how killer

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