Blog Tags: Humpback Whales
Each year, thousands of people embark on whale watching tours in hope of spotting the majestic humpback whale in the wild. These baleen whales—who engage in lively leaps and flips, enhanced by their thin flippers and blue-back coloration—can put on quite the show for onlookers, but there is something extra special about encountering these marine mammals when it’s unexpected.
Ocean Roundup: Humpback Whale Scars Can Reveal Migration Patterns, Sea Star Die-Offs Linked to Virus, and More
- In a new study, researchers say that identifying scars on humpback whales from killer whales and cookiecutter sharks is helping scientists better understand their migration patterns. Because cookiecutter sharks are typically found in warmer waters, whereas killer whales are widely distributed, scars from cookiecutters show that humpbacks recently passed through warmer waters. Independent Online
Ocean Roundup: Seafood Fraud Ring Uncovered in Australia, Fish Species Found to Change Skin Color, and More
- A 16-foot-long baby humpback whale was released after becoming entangled in a net off Queensland, Australia. Humpback whales are currently migrating back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica. ABC Australia
- 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
Ocean News: Humpbacks Delight Onlookers with Rare Double Breach, Scotland’s Puffins See a Successful Season, and More
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Ocean Roundup: Fiddler Crabs Found Far North of Their Range, 500 Dead Sea Lions Discovered in Peru, and More Posted Tue, November 25, 2014
- Sea Turtles Can Get the Bends after Capture in Fishing Gear, Says New Study Posted Tue, November 25, 2014
- Ocean Roundup: Dolphins Use Whistles as Names, Conservationists Call for Removal of Queensland Shark Nets, and More Posted Mon, November 24, 2014
- ICCAT Moves to Properly Manage Bluefin Tuna, but Doesn’t Take Action for Sharks and Swordfish Posted Wed, November 26, 2014
- Oceana in Chile Submits Recommendations for Lowering Common Hake Catch Quotas Posted Mon, November 24, 2014