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Blog Tags: Humpback Whales

Ocean News: New Maps Reveal Extent of Ocean Plastic, Florida Keys Launches Turtle Cam, and More

A loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle hatchling

A loggerhead (Caretta caretta) sea turtle hatchling. (Photo: Oceana / Cory Wilson)

- New maps of ocean plastics—the first of their kind—show plastic accumulation levels across the world’s oceans. The maps highlight data from a study released this month that found plastics floating in five subtropical gyres across the world. National Geographic


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Ocean News: Humpbacks Delight Onlookers with Rare Double Breach, Scotland’s Puffins See a Successful Season, and More

Puffins on the Farne Islands in the UK

Puffins on the Farne Islands in the UK. (Photo: John Sargent / Flickr Creative Commons)

- Two leading scientists on microplastics have called for urgent action to reduce and eliminate them from the marine environment. The scientists stressed that little is known about these particulates, such as what effect they have on the seafloor and where they’re most commonly found. EurekAlert


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Ocean News: Crude Oil Affects Mahi-Mahi, Arctic Migratory Birds Breeding Earlier, and More

The pectoral sandpiper breeds in the Arctic

The pectoral sandpiper breeds in the Arctic and winters in Central and South America. (Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr Creative Commons)

- NOAA found that delisting the central north Pacific population of humpback whales from the Endangered Species Act could be warranted after a positive 90-day review. The state of Alaska issued a petition in February to delist this population. Alaska Dispatch


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Speak Up for California’s Marine Life Today

Humpback whale. [Image via Wikimedia Commons.]

Humpback whales flock to the California coast, searching for herring, krill, and other small tasty fish. But these small fish, also known as forage fish, are dwindling in numbers due to fishing pressure, pollution, and demand for feed in the agriculture and aquaculture industries, among other threats.

There is currently legislation pending in the California State Assembly that highlights the importance of prey fish and calls for a scientific approach to fishing for them. Right now there is no consistent state policy governing management of forage species, but with your help we can change that.

Today is the last day to speak up for these important creatures - Tell the California State Assembly to support better management of forage species.


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Fact of the Day: Humpback Whale

humpback whale

Humpback Whale (credit: Wanetta Ayers)

Today’s FOTD is about the humpback whale. These giants grow up to 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons. They are highly migratory and spend their summers feeding in the nutrient-rich polar waters and travel to tropical waters to breed.

There is little food for humpbacks in the warm waters of the tropics so they essentially live off their fat reserves, which they build up during their summers in the polar waters.


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Whale Wednesday: Talkin' to You

Don't you hate when you're at a party or restaurant, and even without music on, the room grows louder and louder and louder? Until you can barely hear the person standing right next to you? New research shows that sperm whales have evolved to circumvent this cocktail party conundrum.

According to the scientists, whose work will be presented at the Acoustical Society of America next week, the whales are polite conversationalists -- they make a specific effort to keep their calls from overlapping by changing the intervals between their echolocating clicks.

Perhaps humans can try this. It might go something like this:

"Would you - click - like an hors d'oeuvre - click?"

"Yes, one - click - mushroom puff - click - please."

And in other acoustic findings, researchers have discovered the first known instances of male humpback whales singing to one another, similar to songbirds. Whether the whale songs are macho seduction tunes -- like male birdsongs -- is still unclear.

What is clear is that there's a lot we don't know about what's being said and sung under the sea.


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Field Trip: Whales | Tohor?

humpback whale playing, whales tohora exhibit national geographic

On Friday afternoon, I took a field trip, as I'd hoped, to the new exhibit at the National Geographic museum, Whales | Tohor?. I thought it was exceptional; it engaged all the senses (except taste) with interactive features both scientific and and cultural. The centerpiece of the exhibit -- the first thing I noticed -- was an impressive 58-foot long male sperm whale skeleton that was found beached in 2003. Next I checked out the series of ancient whale skeletons. The world's first whale, pakicetus attocki, looked an awful lot to me like an R.O.U.S.... It was neat to watch as each successive skeleton's limbs grew smaller and smaller, until they started to look like the whales we know and love -- 'twas quite a visual lesson in evolution.


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