Whale Biology

New research suggests dolphin infanticide in Japan

dolphin infanticide

Our friend Leanne Rosser from Japan just made a disturbing yet fascinating discovery: she observed a potential dolphin infanticide event (the killing of an infant) in the population of Pacific white-sided dolphins she studies in Mutsu Bay, Japan. In this post, she tells us about this event she witnessed, as well as the reasons behind …

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Scientists develop a model to reveal wild killer whales’ diets

A new study presented a method to reconstruct killer whales’ diets using the lipid composition of their blubber. By measuring these lipids, called fatty acids, in the killer whales’ fat and those in their potential prey, scientists can estimate the abundance of each prey species in the whales’ diet. This new method may hold the …

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The largest heart in the animal kingdom belongs to the blue whale

At the start of this year, we talked about the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). Today we wanted to dive deeper into a specific part of their giant anatomy: their heart! It’s no surprise that blue whales have huge hearts since they are one of the largest animals ever to exist. Not only are these organs huge …

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One big tooth: Let’s talk about the narwhal’s tusk

In the far far north, close to the sea ice, lives a mysterious creature often called the unicorn of the sea: the narwhal. This animal owes its name to its tusk. In old Norse, the term nafarr means “auger”, which is a type of drill that resembles the narwhal’s spiraled tusk. Narwhals are quite elusive …

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Pass the sunscreen: do whales get sunburnt?

Whales and dolphins spend a good chunk of their time close to the surface, especially when they are resting or socializing. With no shade around, do whales get sunburnt? Do they have a natural defense against UV radiation? In this article, we come to the surface of the ocean to see how UV radiation affects …

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New research confirms dolphins have a working clitoris and likely feel sexual pleasure

The hot news is literally rocking the biological world right now. Anatomical evidence suggests that female dolphins have a working clitoris, just like female humans. Let’s find out more about this incredible new research published yesterday in Current Biology. How do you even study a dolphin’s clitoris? We know so little about marine mammals and …

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This species has the lowest teeth count of all dolphins

risso's dolphins teeth

Dolphins typically have between 100 and 200 identical teeth. Their teeth are typically shaped like cones to grab, grip, and secure prey before swallowing it whole. Dolphins may also use them to tear apart large chunks of flesh from their prey. Baby dolphins are born without teeth, and they gradually erupt from 2 to 5 …

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Humpback whale males escort females giving birth, but it can get chaotic

humpback whale birth

As if giving birth was not hard enough, when you are trying to push a 1.5-tons baby out of your womb, having to deal with hormone-triggered males adds another level of stress to a humpback whale in labor. A new study published this September detailed six previously un-published humpback whale birth events. In most cases, …

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Pregnancy planning 101: lessons from seals’ embryonic diapause

For humans, pregnancy is generally predictable: boy meets girl, *you know what happens*, an embryo is implanted, and nine months later, a baby is born. In the seal world, things are a bit different. Seal boy meets seal girl, they do their business, but an embryo does not always immediately get implanted. By pausing their …

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Whale Scientists Story – Enrico Corsi

Enrico Corsi

Enrico Corsi is a 29-year-old Italian marine mammalogist. He is currently doing his PhD in the Marine Conservation Ecology Lab at Florida International University in Miami. Here is his story. A fascination for the living world I was always fascinated by the life sciences as far back as I could remember. I was that 90s …

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