The Beacon

Blog Tags: Whales

Video: Drone Captures Amazing Humpback Whale Feeding Event on Camera

Drone footage captured humpback whales feeding off Alaska

Humpback whales feeding in Alaska. (Photo: AkXpro / Vimeo)

Apart from their massive size, humpback whales are most known for their extensive, complex “songs” that male humpbacks use for communication. But, humpback whales also have some fascinating feeding behaviors that are also worthy of attention—particularly bubble-netting.


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Video: Incredible Sperm Whale Birth Caught on Film

A sperm whale was caught giving birth on film

A pod of sperm whales and the new calf off the Azores. (Photo: Caters TV / YouTube)

Spotting elusive, deep-diving marine animals in the wild is certainly a treat for anyone, but catching them engaging in particularly rare behavior like giving birth or bubble-netting is especially rewarding. Recently, wildlife photographer Kurt Amsler was in the right place at the right time for capturing one of those very moments with sperm whales.


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Humpback Whales’ Scars Help Explain their Migratory Patterns, Study Finds

Scars on humpback whales help reveal migration routes

Scars on humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) flukes. (Photo: Jeff Li / Flickr Creative Commons)

In the Southern Hemisphere, humpback whales migrate between feeding grounds around Antarctica to breeding grounds in tropical waters, but an understanding of these stocks—divided into “Breeding Stocks A-G” for management purposes—has long been hazy because of a lack of data. But recently, researchers analyzed an unsuspecting feature of humpback whales to better understand their migration patterns: scars on their flukes.


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Video: Humpback Whales Cause Quite the Surprise As They Hunt for Herring

A new video caught humpback whales feeding on herring

Several humpback whales burst from the water to catch herring. (Photo: djnord / YouTube)

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.


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Ocean Roundup: Rare Blue Lobster Caught in Maine, Cephalopod Skin Providing Groundwork for New Technology, and More

Cephalopods have been used in new technology

Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) in Portugal. Cephalopods, like octopuses, have been inspiration for new technology. (Photo:  Oceana / Carlos Minguell)

- New York City may seem like the last place to spot whales, but these cetaceans are making a comeback in the area. This summer, an eco-tourism group has spotted 52 whales alone. CBS News


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Whales Found to be Crucial for Healthy Ocean Ecosystems

Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus)

Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus). (Photo: Flickr Creative Commons  / Scott Portelli)

In June, researchers found that whale poo is highly beneficial to marine ecosystems in the Southern Ocean since it is rich in iron. Now, new findings show that whales’ contribution to the sea goes far beyond just their excrements.


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Reducing Bycatch Casualties, One Whale at a Time

(Photo: Howard Ignatius)

As mentioned in our recently released Wasted Catch report, whales, dolphins, porpoises and other marine life are victims of bycatch, which is the catch of non-target fish and marine animals. Whales can become entangled in nets or trail fishing lines and gear that wraps around their fins, causing injuries and distress as the animals struggle to swim and reach the surface for air.


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A Blue Whale’s Life Story Revealed Through Ear Wax

Blue whales are probably the largest animal that has ever lived. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library) 

Instead of our weekly Creature Feature, we’d like share an awesome new finding about one well-known ocean creature, the blue whale. Scientists discovered that earwax can reveal amazingly details about the life of whales, according to a study published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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An Eventful April for Oceana's Climate and Energy Team

Mock oil spills like this one were staged around the country in April to demonstrate disastrous effects of oil drilling on the oceans. Photo: Sarah Schwimmer

Oceana’s climate and energy campaign had an eventful April. In our ongoing effort to stop East Coast offshore drilling before it starts, we’ve been working hard to prevent the oil industry from taking the first step toward drilling: seismic airguns to explore for oil.

The specifics of seismic airgun testing are worth understanding if only because the oil industry seems to be counting on Americans’ lack of knowledge about this highly specific technology in order to get a foothold in some ocean areas that have been protected from drilling since the Reagan administration.


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10 Reasons to Prevent Seismic Airgun Testing in the Atlantic

Image via Current.com.

Yesterday, members of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sent letters to President Obama urging him to stop proposed seismic airgun testing in the Atlantic Ocean.

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is currently deciding if seismic airgun testing should be allowed to search for oil and gas in the Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of seven states from Delaware to Florida.

This type of seismic testing involves the use of airguns, which are towed behind ships and shoot loud blasts of compressed air at 250 decibels through the water and miles into the seabed to search for deep oil and gas deposits. These airguns make intense pulses of sound, almost as loud as explosives, every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for days to weeks on end. The blasts are so loud and constant that they can injure or disturb vital behaviors in fish, dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

Marine life impacts can include temporary and permanent hearing loss, abandonment of habitat, disruption of mating and feeding, and even beach strandings and death. If approved, seismic airguns will threaten endangered species, fisheries and coastal economies throughout the Atlantic.

These disruptive airguns are unnecessary and dangerous and here are the top 10 reasons why:

1. Seismic airgun testing is the first step towards deepwater drilling, the same practice that brought us the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in 2010.

2. Seismic airgun testing will injure about 138,500 whales and dolphins, nine of which are North Atlantic right whales, one of the most endangered species on the planet, based on DOI’s own study, which may underestimate the impacts.

3. In Peru in early 2012, 900 dolphins and porpoises washed up on shore dead with physical signs of damage to their ear bones following seismic airgun testing. In 2008 a similar mass die off occurred for dozens of melon-headed whales in Madagascar after testing.

4. Because it displaces fish and can harm fisheries, seismic airgun testing threatens over 200,000 jobs in commercial and recreational fishing.

5. There are less harmful technologies than airguns on the horizon but they are not being considered by DOI.

6. Seismic testing or drilling in the Atlantic would not reduce U.S. gas prices by even a penny.

7. Oil and gas companies already own oil and gas leases on millions of acres of federal lands and waters, many of them are inactive and have not been developed.

8. The burning of oil and gas contributes to global climate change and ocean acidification, so new drilling in the Atlantic is not the solution to our energy challenges.

9. There is no need to conduct seismic airgun testing now, since the administration does not plan to hold oil and gas lease sales in the area until at least 2017.

10. Atlantic offshore wind could supply more jobs and energy than oil and gas in the region.

Learn more about the harmful impacts of seismic airguns and tell the President to protect whales and dolphins in the Atlantic, not drive them away. 


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