Whales

Photo of humpback whale breaching.
Humpback whales have been increasingly spotted in the New York Bight.

Is New York Bight now a supplementary feeding site for baleen whales?

An increased presence of baleen whale species has been observed in the waters off New York and New Jersey, suggesting that they may be using the area as a supplementary feeding ground.

In boat surveys conducted from 2017 to 2019, scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Columbia University observed humpback, fin and minke whales foraging in the New York Bight. A paper on their findings was published in the Marine Biology Research journal.

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Conscious Breath Adventures Returns to the Silver Bank in 2022

Mon, 09/08/2021 - 20:54

Every winter the Silver Bank is home to the largest gathering of humpback whales found anywhere in the North Atlantic, and Conscious Breath Adventures is exceptionally positioned to lead visitors there. 

The Silver Bank, part of the Sanctuary for the Marine Mammals of the Dominican Republic, is one of the few places on earth where swimming with humpback whales is officially sanctioned, permitted, and properly regulated. 

Filephoto: Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)

New Population of Pygmy Blue Whales Discovered

Pygmy blue whales are the smallest members of the blue whale family, but that's the only small thing about them: they can reach up to 24 meters long.

Despite their enormous size, blue whales have been difficult to observe in the Southern Hemisphere as they live offshore and don't jump around like the humpback whales; thus, for some regions, their population structure, distribution and migration routes remain poorly understood. In particular, little is known about the blue whales in the northern Indian Ocean.

Narwhal being tagged.
Narwhal being tagged.

Artificial intelligence shines light on narwhal's hunting behavior

Narwhals, notwithstanding their unicorn-like tusks, are a mysterious species. They live in distant Arctic regions and hunt as deep as 1,000 meters down. 

They orient themselves using echolocation, making clicking sounds to explore their surroundings. When they hunt, the clicking sounds turn into buzzing sounds as the interval times shorten.

The pygmy blue whale is the smallest subspecies of the blue whale (shown here).
The pygmy blue whale is the smallest subspecies of the blue whale (shown here).

Pygmy blue whales

A new population of pygmy blue whales has been discovered in the Indian Ocean, thanks to underwater nuclear bomb detectors that recorded their whale songs.

The research team, led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), had been studying data from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) which monitors international nuclear bomb testing, when an unusually strong signal caught their attention.

Mmo iwdg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Long-finned pilot whale cow with her calf, off the coast of Ireland. Photo by Mmo iwdg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Buoy in Celtic Sea tracks oceanic noise

Equipped with an autonomous hydrophone, the buoy's function is to conduct for the first time real-time acoustic monitoring of the water's cetaceans to assess how oceanic noise pollution affects them. 

Deployed as part of the Smart Whale Sounds project, it will also track the distribution and behaviour of whale species in real-time and be used to train machine learning models to identify different species' calls. 

Cetaceans have developed mechanisms against diseases such as cancer

Why whales don't seem to get cancer

Cetaceans were not limited by gravity in the buoyant marine environment and evolved multiple giant forms, exemplified today by the largest animal that has ever lived: the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus).

There are tradeoffs, however, associated with large body size, including a higher lifetime risk of cancer due to a greater number of somatic cell divisions over time.  The largest whales can have ∼1,000 times more cells than a human, with long lifespans, leaving them theoretically susceptible to cancer. 

Narwhals in dense pack ice
Narwhals in dense pack ice

Narwhal's tusk tells on its feeding habits, and more

Using mercury and stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen to obtain such information, the team were able to also analyse how the ice cover and the impact of potential toxic compounds have evolved over time.

Their findings were published in the Current Biology journal.

The tusks of the ten narwhals involved in the research were 150 to 248 cm long, and contained data from the time period 1962 to 2010.

The fin whale, also known as the finback whale, is the second-largest species on Earth after the blue whale.

Whales expand their distribution

Four of the six baleen whale species found in the western North Atlantic Ocean (humpback, sei, fin and blue) have changed their distribution patterns in the past decade.

Using 281 passive acoustic recorders moored to the sea floor from the Caribbean Sea to Greenland, researchers from the United States and Canada monitored the movements of the whales from 2004 to 2014. The findings of their study was published in the Global Change Biology journal.