Dolphins, whales squealing with pleasure?


This video is called Science Bulletins: Whales Give Dolphins a Lift.

From Science News:

Dolphins and whales may squeal with pleasure too

by Science News Staff

8:00am, August 15, 2014

Guest post by Chris Riotta

When dolphins and whales squeal, they may not be sending food signals to their friends. They could just be shrieking with pleasure.

After measuring the time delay between a dolphin or whale receiving a reward and the animal’s squeal, one researcher noticed the lags were about as long as the time it takes for the chemical dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.

Because the time it takes for the animals to squeal is about the same as for a release of dopamine, the dolphins and whales may be making these sounds of out sheer delight, scientists argue August 15 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Thousands of dolphins, video


This video says about itself:

Drones Over Dolphin Stampede and Whales off Dana Point and Maui

25 February 2014

Captain Dave Anderson of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari in Dana Point, California, at great personal risk, has recently filmed and edited a 5-minute video that contains some of the most beautiful, jaw-dropping, footage ever taken with a drone from the air of a huge mega-pod of thousands of common dolphins stampeding off Dana Point, California, three gray whales migrating together down the coast off San Clemente, California, and heartwarming close-ups hovering over a newborn Humpback whale calf snuggling and playing with its mom as an escort whale stands guard nearby, filmed recently in Maui.

According to N.O.A.A. Southern California has the greatest density of dolphins in the world. We have pods up to 10,000 strong stretched out for miles like the wildebeests of Africa. Over 400,000 common dolphin alone. We also have the largest concentration of blue whales on earth.

Capt. Dave explains, “This is the most beautiful and compelling five minute video I have ever put together. I learned so much about these whales and dolphins from this drone footage that it feels like I have entered a new dimension! I have not been this excited about a new technology since we built our underwater viewing pods on our whale watching boat. Drones are going to change how we view the animal world. Wow!”

Capt. Dave had to film this off a small inflatable boat, launching and catching the quadcopter drone by hand where a miss could mean injury to him from the four propeller blades or loss of the drone. He actually lost one drone on takeoff when it nicked his small VHF radio antenna on the 14 foot rigid inflatable he was filming from and it went into the water. Alone six miles offshore Capt. Dave , without thinking , dove into the cold, late-January waters off Dana Point to retrieve the valuable footage taken on a flight a half hour earlier that morning. “I had my hat and glasses on, I was fully clothed with long-johns on to keep warm and my cell phone and wallet in my pocket,” Captain Dave explained. “It was a stupid move, but the copter started sinking so fast it was my only hope to get the amazing footage I had just shot”. Since then he has attached flotation to the skids, which would save the footage, but every flight over the water still risks the DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter with a small GoPro HERO3 Black camera on it, as the $1,700 rig is not waterproof and the skids will not keep it upright on the ocean.

“I get so nervous every flight over the water now, after the accident, my hands start shaking,” explains Capt. Dave. “My wife says no more drones if I lose this one. But she said that before I lost the other one. Now that she’s seen what it can do, I think she’s just as hooked as I am”.

“This technology, that offers such steady footage from the air for such a low price and is so easy to fly, is new. This was a ten or twenty thousand dollar copter a few years ago and flying those took a great deal of skill. I can’t wait to see what footage this year will bring with this drone, getting a different perspective on the amazing sightings we already have off Dana Point. There is debate in many states right now about making use of these drones illegal. People are justifiably concerned about invasion of privacy. But it would be a shame to have this new window into a whale’s world taken away.”

Entanglement in fishing gear takes the lives of nearly 1,000 dolphins and whales ever day around the world. Captain Dave formed Orange County’s first whale disentanglement group in 2008 and has been involved in disentangling several whales, including a gray whale named Lily, whose disentanglement in Dana Point Harbor made national headlines. He authored the award-winning book, “Lily, A Gray Whale‘s Odyssey”, which won eight awards in 2013 including the prestigious Benjamin Franklin award for Best New Voice from the Independent Book Publishers Association.

A Special Note From Captain Dave:

Attention any would be whale videographers: please only attempt this if you are extremely familiar with whale behavior as it is illegal to do anything that causes the whales to change their normal behavior with big fines- and the authorities do watch YouTube. Different areas have different laws on approaching whales. I am a whale watch captain with nearly 20 years of experience. All laws were obeyed by us during filming. In Maui we sat watching whales from a distance for hours before they moved closer to us. You can never approach them there closer than 100 yards. The Mom and calf as you can see in the film were completely undisturbed by the small drone. NOAA is currently reviewing drones and may create laws or guidelines for using them around whales.

Fully licensed music by David Hollandsworth, themusicase.com.

Video footage is copyright David Anderson/DolphinSafari.com and may not be used without permission.

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Saving Ganges river dolphins


This video from India says about itself:

7 Wonders of India: Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary

11 feb. 2009

Located in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar, Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is a 50 km stretch of Ganges River from Sultanganj to Kahalgaon. The dolphin population across India is estimated to be a little over 1,500. Half of these are found in the Ganga in Bihar. It is the only protected area for these endangered dolphins in Asia.

From Wildlife Extra:

Improved monitoring gives Ganges river dolphin better survival odds

Using a combined visual-acoustic survey method could be a more effective way of monitoring the endangered Ganges river dolphin, scientists have found.

Previously it was believed that visual survey methods – reliant on conservationists spotting and recording surfacing dolphins – were the most cost-effective way of surveying the species. The study revealed that detecting the sound that dolphins emit using a method called a combined visual-acoustic survey, can improve the ability to detect population trends and reduce survey costs.

Scientist Nadia Richman from the zoological Society of London (ZSL) said: “Freshwater cetaceans occupy some of the most densely populated and polluted river systems in the world. We need to make decisions about the best way to manage these species before another becomes extinct. However, these decisions need to be based on evidence which means we need methods that can detect changes in population size in the quickest time possible and for the least cost.”

The ability to detect changes in population size of a species helps to inform conservationists how fast a population is declining, and whether a conservation action has been effective in stopping a decline.

The study was undertaken by scientists from ZSL, Bangor University, the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project, and the Fisheries Research Agency of Japan.

These findings have been published 8th of May 2014 in the journal PLOS ONE. Read the paper here.

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New humpback dolphin sanctuary in Taiwan


This video says about itself:

First Film of Rare Humpback Dolphins with Bottlenose Dolphins in Watamu, Kenya

Thanks to Alex Simpson who edited the original footage with dolphin research photos to produce this video. Watamu Marine Association c/o Lynne Elson took this first ever footage of rare and elusive humpback dolphins on 10th April 2012. This family pod of 6-7 were associating with a pod of Bottlenose dolphins more commonly seen in Watamu Marine Reserve.

From Wildlife Extra:

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin sanctuary set up in Taiwan

A dwindling population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins will be protected with the creation of Taiwan’s first marine wildlife sanctuary. Dolphin numbers have dropped by around 50 per cent according to local conservation groups, because of habitat degradation, industrial expansion and pollution.

Tsai Chia-yang, head of the Chuanghua Environmental Protection Union, said: “Indo-Pacific dolphin population is a key index to measure the health of the maritime environment.”

The Council of Agriculture confirmed the sanctuary, which will be off the west coast of the country, will cover a large area of 76,300 hectare (188,461 acres).

Normal fishing in the area will be unaffected, as the government said a total ban was not feasible as the success of the sanctuary depends on the cooperation of local fishermen, but guidelines have been tightened for operators in the region and there will be tough punishments for illegal fishing of the endangered species. Dredge fishing has also been banned.

In a further step, officials announced that any development projects in the area will require government approval.

Anyone caught poaching the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin could face up to two years in jail and will be fined Tw$500,000 (US$16,530), and anyone caught seriously damaging the habitat could end up with a five years’ prison sentence.

“Illegal fishing has seriously ruined the coastal ecological environment, threatening the endangered dolphins,” said Kuan, referring to the fact that the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins eat mullet among other fish.

In 2011, President Ma Ying-jeou ruled an end to a controversial plan to build a massive oil refinery and more than 20 related petrochemical plants in western Taiwan. This was in reaction to a series of protests for the endangered humpback dolphins.

He said there was a need for Taiwan to balance economic development with environmental protection. The setting up of this sanctuary for Indo-pacific humpback dolphins is a big step forward for the species.

Scientists name new species of cetacean: The Australian humpback dolphin: here.

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Dolphin fossil discovery in New Zealand


This video is called Friday Fossil Mystery – Ep.2 – Dolphin Petrosal.

From the University of Otago in New Zealand:

New dolphin fossil found in NZ

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A newly recognised fossil dolphin from New Zealand, dubbed Papahu taitapu, is the first of its kind ever found and may be a close relation to the ancestors of modern dolphins and toothed whales, according to University of Otago researchers.

Papahu lived 19–22 million years ago, and is one of the few dolphins to be reported globally dating to the start of the Miocene epoch. Judging from the size of its skull, Papahu was about two metres long, roughly the size of a common dolphin.

Dr Gabriel Aguirre and Professor Ewan Fordyce, from the University’s Department of Geology describe and interpret Papahu in the latest issue of Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. This work was part of Dr Aguirre’s PhD research.

Dr Aguirre says that like most living dolphins, Papahu had many simple conical teeth, but its head was probably a bit wider, and not as high-domed. It lived at a time of global warmth, in shallow seas around Zealandia – or proto-New Zealand – along with ancient penguins and baleen whales.

The skull, one jaw, and a few other parts of Papahu taitapu were found in marine sedimentary rocks in the Cape Farewell region of northern South Island. The researchers used the Māori name ‘taitapu’ to honour this region, and ‘Papahu’ is a Māori name for dolphin. Only a single specimen has been found so far and the fossil is housed in the University’s Geology Museum.

“Our study of structures of the skull and earbone suggest that Papahu could make and use high frequency sound to navigate and detect prey in murky water. They probably also used sound to communicate with each other,” says Dr Aguirre.

Features of the Papahu skull can be used to analyse relationships with other dolphins and toothed whales. That work shows that the skull is distinct from all previously-reported fossils, which is why the dolphin can be formally named as a new form, he says.

“When we compared Papahu with both modern and fossil dolphins we found that it belongs in a diverse and structurally variable group of ancient dolphins that evolved and spread world-wide 19–35 million years ago. All of those ancient dolphins including Papahu and others, such as shark-toothed dolphins, are now extinct,” says Professor Fordyce.

“They have been replaced by the ‘modern’ dolphins and toothed whales, which diversified within the last 19 million years,” he says.

It is not clear, however, exactly why Papahu and other ancient dolphins went extinct, he added.

See also here.

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Spinner dolphin-striped dolphin hybrid discovery


This video from the USA is called Clymene Dolphins off Cape Hatteras, NC in May 2008, filmed by G. Armistead.

This video is called Untamed Americas: Spinner Dolphins.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare natural hybridisation results in a dolphin with genetic similarities to both the spinner and striped

January 2014: A newly published study on the clymene dolphin, a small, sleek marine mammal living in the Atlantic Ocean, shows that this species arose through natural hybridisation between two dolphins species. In a molecular analysis including the closely related spinner and striped dolphins, scientists concluded that the clymene dolphin is the product a process that is common for plants, fishes and birds, but quite rare in mammals.

The study was conducted by to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, the Mote Marine Laboratory and the University of Lisbon.

“Our study represents the first such documented instance of a marine mammal species originating through the hybridisation of two other species,” said Ana R. Amaral, lead author of the study and research associate at the American Museum of Natural History. “This also provides us with an excellent opportunity to better understand the mechanisms of evolution.”

The classification of the clymene dolphin has been a longstanding challenge to taxonomists, who initially considered it to be a subspecies of the spinner dolphin. Then in 1981, thorough morphological analyses established it as a recognised distinct species. In the current study, researchers sought to clarify outstanding questions about the dolphin’s origin and relationships with rigorous genetic analyses.

Based on research conducted at the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, the authors examined the nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from skin samples obtained from both free-ranging dolphins by means of biopsy darts and deceased dolphins obtained through stranding events. Specifically, the team discovered that while the mitochondrial genome of the clymene dolphin most resembled the striped dolphin, the nuclear genome revealed a closer relation to the spinner dolphin. The findings reveal not only more about the species, but how natural hybridisation can create an entirely new species of mammal over time.

The clymene dolphin grows up to nearly 7ft in length and inhabits the tropical and temperate waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Threats to the species include incidental capture as by catch in fishing nets, which in some parts of the range has turned into direct hunts for either human consumption or shark bait.

This video is called Striped Dolphin Species Identification.

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Rare dolphins near English Farne Islands


This video from England says about itself:

Dolphins swimming off the Farne Islands.

Filmed from Glad Tidings VI on the 16th November 2013.

Wow!

These are bottlenose dolphins.

This video from England says about itself:

2 Common Dolphins at the Farne Islands on November 17th 2013 playing with the bow of the boat and then following other boats all the way into Seahouses harbour.

And this video from England says about itself:

2 Common Dolphins in the harbour of Seahouses on Nov 17th 2013. Filmed from Serenity II.

From the Serenity blog in England (with photos there):

Common Dolphins 17/11/2013

This blog should have been out a week ago but I suppose it better late than ever.

Anyway last Sunday (17th) I was on a 1.5 hour trip around the Farne Islands when my friend Ron gave me a shout saying that he had seen 2 dolphins at the Blue Caps.

I was nearly at Staple Island and I was praying that they would wait for us to arrive. By the time I got there they had been around all the boats and even a diver of Toby’s boat said that one of them swam straight past him.

As I got closer I could see about 6/7 Seals playing on the surface and then the 2 Dolphins came jumping out of the water.

I could not believe what I was witnessing and in my wildest dreams I never thought dolphins and seals would play together, but it looked like they were having so much fun until I turned up.

The pair left the seals and started to bow ride the boat. At first they were way ahead of the boat so I went a little faster and they seemed to enjoy it a bit more. They were really showing off so I went a little bit faster until I was doing 20 knots and they kept up with the boat. Now that is some speed and I don’t know how fast they can go but whatever the speed is 20 knots is very impressive.

They stayed with us for a while and then disappeared, so we turned around and headed over towards the seals.

Once we arrived back at the harbour I was praying that they would still be there for our next guests and as we steamed out of the harbour I noticed my cousin pointing at the bow of his boat. As I looked to see what he was meaning the dolphins jumped out of the water. They had followed him all the way back to the harbour and as I stopped they just followed him into the harbour. I could not believe they were actually in the harbour.

Another boat turned up and then another and at one stage we had 4 boats viewing the 2 dolphins swimming around us all.

I have never in my life seen dolphins in the harbour and to make it even better it was Common Dolphins, which have never been seen in Northumberland since 1989 and a first for the Farne Islands.

As I finished my last trip of the day and they were still outside the harbour until dark. A great record for the Farne Islands and hopefully not the last.

Sorry as all my pictures were taken on a mobile as I left my camera at home.

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Caribbean whales, dolphins and sharks


This video says about itself:

Whales in the Caribbean off Antigua and Barbuda

Humpback whales pass through the island chain each year giving those of us doing tours and charters something to look forward to. Yesterday we switched off the engines in very still conditions and had the pleasure of spending over 30 minutes with a mother and her calf. Some of the passengers on the boat couldn’t be held back and went over to snorkel with them. We made sure to keep good distance, but the inquisitive whales came very close to us to give us a good look.

Researchers of IMARES Wageningen UR in the Netherlands report about airplane based research, early November this year, in the Caribbean, in the sea around Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao islands.

From the plane, they saw humpback whales, common bottlenose dolphins and rough-toothed dolphins. Also marine mammals which might be either Atlantic spotted dolphins, or pantropical spotted dolphins. These two species look very much alike from the air.

They saw sea turtles, rays and birds as well.

A whale shark was seen north of Aruba; and a basking shark north of Curaçao.

New dolphin species discovery in Australia


This video is called First Film of Rare Humpback Dolphins with Bottlenose Dolphins in Watamu, Kenya.

From Wildlife Extra:

New dolphin species discovered

Scientists find that dolphin in Australian waters is a new species

October 2013: A new, fourth, species of a humpback dolphin has been identified in the waters off northern Australia says a team of researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the American Museum of Natural History. Humpback dolphins are named after a peculiar hump found just below the dorsal and live within river deltas, estuaries and coastal waters throughout the Indian, Pacific and eastern Atlantic oceans.

This wide geographic spread has led to the evolution of different species and till now scientists knew of three; the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii) that lives in the eastern Atlantic off West Africa, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea), which ranges from the central to the western Indian Ocean, another species of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) that inhabits the eastern Indian and western Pacific Oceans.

“This discovery helps our understanding of the evolutionary history of this group and informs conservation policies to help safeguard each of the species,” said Dr. Martin Mendez, assistant drector of WCS’s Latin America and the Caribbean Program and lead author of the study.

The humpback dolphin grows up to eight feet in length and ranges from dark grey to pink and/or white in colour. The Atlantic humpback is “Vulnerable” according to the IUCN Red List, whereas the Indo-Pacific species is listed as “Near Threatened.” Humpback dolphins are threatened by habitat loss and fishing activity.

“New information about distinct species across the entire range of humpback dolphins will increase the number of recognized species, and provides the needed scientific evidence for management decisions aimed at protecting their unique genetic diversity and associated important habitats,” said Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program.