Whale Biology

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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Whales are the engineers of their ecosystems

What do baleen and sperm whales have to do with climate change? More than you may initially think! Long-lived species help to enhance the predictability of marine environments. This helps to keep the ecosystem stable. However, after an extensive period of whaling, humans have disrupted this natural process. The number of great whales has declined …

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Some fish-eating orcas have worn out teeth: Here’s why

Worn-out teeth, also called tooth wear, are pretty common in cetaceans. Although there are many documented cases of tooth wear in captivity, worn-out teeth exist in wild whales. And especially those who eat a lot of fish, like herring-eating killer whales. In this post, we explain why eating some fish can damage wild killer whale …

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Good grief! When whales and dolphins mourn the dead

As an inevitable part of nature, death happens to all living things. Despite the certainty of it, coping with death is never easy for anyone. And by anyone, I don’t just mean humans… Some animals, including elephants, apes, and cetaceans, react unusually when a group member passes away. Could these animals be capable of experiencing …

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Whales of Mystery: We know so little about beaked whales

Twenty-two species of beaked whales live ocean-wide. They inhabit waters from the tropics to the poles. For such a cosmopolitan family, little is known about beaked whales. So, what exactly are beaked whales, and why are they so hard to study? The most mysterious cetaceans Beaked whales belong to the Ziphiidae family. So-named for their …

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What do we know about intelligence in whales and dolphins?

Everybody knows that whales and dolphins have large brains and are quite smart. Indeed, they can catch prey, migrate thousands of kilometers and even interact with other species. In this post, we cover cetacean intelligence, from self-awareness to transmitting culture, and try to answer this question: could these animals be as smart, if not smarter, …

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