Whales

Sperm whale.  Photo by Eric Cheng
Will humans ever understand what these cetaceans are saying?

Will we learn to speak whale?

Project CETI is a nonprofit organisation applying machine learning and robotics to listen to and translate the communication of whales. The organisation is working to develop a deeper understanding of the complex system of communication that sperm whales use and share this understanding with the world.

Researchers deploying a suction-cup tag on a blue whale in California
Researchers deploying a suction-cup tag on a blue whale in California

Baleen whales eat more than previously thought

How much do baleen whales eat every day?

Researchers have discovered that baleen whales actually eat an average of three times more food than previously thought. This in turn means that we have been underestimating their impact  and contribution to ocean’s ecosystems.

This finding was shared in a paper in a recent issue of the Nature journal.

Harbour porpoise in Denmark.
Harbour porpoise in Denmark.

How toothed whales use echolocation to hunt

Can hunting by echolocation be as fast as hunting by sight?

As visual animals, we may find this a peculiar question—not so if one applies it to animals that hunt using echolocation, like bats, dolphins and whales. These animals emit clicking sounds and use the reflected echoes to determine the location of objects and other animals.

Can animals that hunt using echolocation lock onto their prey and track their movements, and how fast can they react? These were questions that an international team of researchers sought to answer.

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.

Conscious Breath Adventures Returns to the Silver Bank in 2022

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.