This video is called Beluga Whale Video Clip 1.
Translated from Dutch news agency ANP:
ROTTERDAM – Workers of the Natuurhistorisch Museum in Rotterdam on Monday have recovered a dorsal vertebra of a prehistoric white whale [beluga]. It was found in the North Sea near the Nieuwe Waterweg.
According to Kees Moeliker of the museum, also a ,,splendid” front leg of a woolly mammoth was found. The museum workers were, together with fishermen, looking for remains of the extinct sabre-toothed tiger. This time, these have not been found; however, Moeliker expects to have more success in this soon.
Also, a rhinoceros bone was found; with hyena tooth marks on it, according to Dutch NOS TV.
European diplomats damage Egyptian whale fossils: here.
Pollution stunts Canada’s beluga whales
1 day ago
SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER, Canada (AFP) — The beluga whales make a shrill sound as they stick their noses out of the water, watched by conservationist Michel Moisan. They are a rare sight this far south — and the chemicals washing into their river are keeping them that way.
Most beluga are found in the Arctic, but a rare pocket survives — just — here where the river Saguenay river meets the Saint Lawrence some 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of Montreal. They are the only ones among the 13 whale species in the river to live here all year round.
Spying a group of beluga through binoculars, Moisan, of the local Marine Mammal Research and Education Group, draws close in his boat, photographs them, notes their location, then fires a dart to grab a sample of fat from the creatures to glean more information on their health.
“It’s a population in peril,” says Veronik de la Cheneliere, a biologist with the conservation group. “The main reason for its decline used to be over-hunting, but that ended in 1979.”
As well as banning the hunt, the government in the 1980s restricted the use of chemicals such as the toxic pesticide DDT and the industrial chemical PCB, which were found in beluga carcasses washed up on the Saint Lawrence’s banks.
These measures were supposed to allow the beluga population to grow by three percent a year. But 25 years on, the numbers in the river have not changed, staying at between 1,000 and 1,200, says Veronique Lesage, a researcher at the Canadian fisheries ministry.
Meanwhile, other chemical threats have flowed in.
“The beluga is currently accumulating the biggest load of persistent contaminants,” chemicals that do not break down quickly, said Michel Lebeuf, a specialist from the Maurice-Lamontagne research institute.
His team analysed the carcasses of beluga over 15 years and estimates that the traces in the fat of the whale of chemicals banned in the 1980s have fallen little — in fact, they remain “still very significant.”
This is partly explained by new knowledge about the mammals’ ages: belugas live up to 70 years, twice as long as previously thought, according to a recent report in the Canadian Zoology Review.
So belugas swimming around the Saint Lawrence today could have been alive in the 1970s, when dangerous chemicals were pumped intensively into the water.
“To these products are now added other persistent compounds, more and more commonly used,” such as chemicals used in plastics and solvents, said Lebeuf.
The poisonous cocktail is passing into the whales and via their placentas to their unborn young. The rate of cancer among male beluga in the Saint Lawrence river is at 25 percent.
“Previously, young belugas were arriving in a contaminated environment, but there wasn’t this legacy from the mother,” Lebeuf said.
“Today, beluga that reproduce transmit major contamination, in addition to being in an environment contaminated by new compounds.”
The species’ protected status in Canada forbids anyone from coming within 400 meters (yards) of them, but this is often ignored by visitors in boats who sail close for a view.
“You see lots of people getting too close,” says Jean Desaulniers, a local marine conservation official.
“There is no sign of recovery of this species in the Saint Lawrence,” said de la Cheneliere. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were an estimated 14,500 beluga whales here.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska, Sept. 10 A 10-year-old Alaska boy who found a woolly mammoth tooth the size of a toaster said he’s determined to find more of the ancient beast.
J.P. Post was walking home from school in Fairbanks last month when he spotted what he thought was a jagged rock sticking out of the ground along a well-worn path about 100 yards from his home, the Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily-News Miner reported Monday.
He dug it up with his hands and ran home yelling, “Dad, I found a dinosaur tooth.” The find has been confirmed as the tooth of giant woolly mammoth who roamed more than 10,000 years ago, said Link Olson, curator of mammals at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
J.P. said he seriously is considering donating the tooth to the museum and is determined, in the meantime, to keep digging around his neighborhood in search of more fossil finds.
“He’s a little obsessed about it now,” his mother, Ruth Post, told the Daily-News Miner. “He’s trying to find the rest of the thing.”
Copyright 2007 by UPI
Receding permafrost is a bone-hunters’ bounty
Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:50am EDT
By Dmitry Solovyov
CHERSKY, Russia (Reuters) – One day, climate change could cost the earth. For now, it is a nice little earner for Russian hunter Alexander Vatagin.
In Siberia’s northernmost reaches, high up in the Arctic Circle, the changing temperature is thawing out the permafrost to reveal the bones of prehistoric animals like mammoths, woolly rhinos and lions that have been buried for thousands of years.
Private collectors and scientific institutes will pay huge sums for the right specimen, and bone-prospectors like Vatagin have turned this region, eight time zones from Moscow, into a paleontological Klondyke.
“Last year someone was paid 800,000 roubles ($31,000) for a mammoth head with two tusks in great condition,” said Vatagin.
A brawny 45-year-old, he has a network of helpers: the fishermen and reindeer-herders of the tiny Yukagir ethnic group, whose numbers have dwindled to about 800 people.
“I must have earned the respect of the Yukagir,” he said. “Their shamans convened a council and decided to name me a Yukagir,” he added. He is now Yukagir No. 456.
These tribesmen are his ‘finders’, fanning out across the vast emptiness of the tundra seeking valuable artifacts.
At regular intervals, Vatagin flies by helicopter to the main Yukagir settlement, Andryushkino, some 200 km (125 miles) west of the local centre of Chersky, to view the merchandise.
Prehistoric bones are not very hard to find. The permafrost is thawing and breaking up so rapidly that in certain places in the tundra, every few meters (yards) bones poke out through the soil. Some just lie on the surface.
Vatagin pays between 200 ($8) and 4,000 roubles ($156) per kg of mammoth bones. But it takes a keen eye and local knowledge to find the really valuable stuff.
Tusks, sometimes curled round almost into a circle and reaching up to 5 meters in length, are the most prized finds. A pair of good tusks is a rarity; two tusks and a well-preserved skull can be worth a fortune.
“If he is lucky, a local can earn 200,000 roubles ($7,800) in just one day,” said Vatagin, who wears a massive silver ring with a mammoth’s head engraved into it. “To earn this money, he would have otherwise have to toil for a year.”
But for Vatagin it is not just about money. He himself dives into the ice-cold local rivers to look for relics. The cash he pays the Yukagir tribesmen gives them a living.
Many of the bones retrieved by Vatagin and his adopted tribe end up at the Ice Age Museum in Moscow. The museum makes no secret that scientific discovery goes hand-in-glove with business interests.
Museum official Alexander Svalov has on one of his fingers a ring identical to the one won worn by Vatagin in distant Chersky.
The ring is the symbol of the National Alliance, a close-knit business run by entrepreneur Fyodor Shidlovsky. The company runs the museum, and holds government licenses allowing it to excavate and export prehistoric relics.
Svalov, who is the chief executive of National Alliance, says a well-preserved tusk can sell to private collectors for up to $20,000, while a reconstructed mammoth skeleton can fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
The bones make their way into museums in places like the United States and South Korea. Now promising new markets are opening up in emerging economies like China too.
“Developing nations are now displaying huge interest in mammoths,” says Svalov. “Their economies are growing, they have cash and are starting to develop their museums.”
Back in Chersky, Sergei Davydov, a 52-year-old scientist, does not sell the bones he collects. He keeps them to study the effects of climate change, but also because they fascinate him.
“This tooth has an unusual bump here. The mammoth suffered from a terrible toothache. We can only imagine how he must have roared,” said Davydov, tenderly rubbing a black tooth the size of a large shoe.
He displays his other finds: a mammoth’s giant thigh bones, the horns of a woolly rhino, the jaws of an ancient horse and a cave lion’s skull. Bison skulls crowned with sharp horns decorate the interior of his cozy wooden house.
Davydov acknowledges that rising temperatures in Siberia have been a boon for bone collectors. “As the permafrost thaws, we obtain yet more objects for study,” he said.
But then he reflects: “From the point of view of humanity, it would have been better if this had never happened,” he said.
© Reuters 2007
Hunting was just final straw for mammoth,
Does the human species have mammoth blood on its
hands? Scientists have long debated it.
Beluga family reunites in Vancouver Aquarium pool
David Hogben, Vancouver Sun
Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2008
VANCOUVER — Three generations of beluga whales swam together Tuesday at the Vancouver Aquarium following a successful overnight family reunion.
An as yet unnamed baby beluga took turns swimming in the draft of her mother Qila and grandmother Aurora.
The three belugas were united for the first time in two months after being separated over fears that Aurora might be too domineering a grandmother. But those fears were put to rest after staff put them together Monday evening.
Beluga mom Qila (bottom) and baby (unnamed as yet), with grandmother Aurora (at top) get together for the first time following the recent birth of the baby calf at the Vancouver Aquarium.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Beluga mom Qila (bottom) and baby (unnamed as yet), with grandmother Aurora (at top) get together for the first time following the recent birth of the baby calf at the Vancouver Aquarium.
Bill Keay/Vancouver Sun
“We are seeing Qila become more comfortable around the calf and spending short periods of time with the calf’s grandmother,” said Brian Sheehan, aquarium curator of marine animals.
Sheehan said the separation was necessary for Qila and her calf to bond properly and develop regular nursing habits away from the strong maternal behavior of Qila’s mother Aurora.
“It will be interesting to see if there is spontaneous lactation,” Sheehan said of Aurora. Female beluga whales in the wild are known to begin lactating and share nursing duties with the biological mothers of calves.
Sheehan said staff are regularly recording nursing patterns of the calf, breathing rates and sometimes cortisone levels in blood to determine stress levels. Vocalization between the whales is also closely monitored.
The calf, born June 10, now weighs 100 kilograms, twice its birth weight.
The aquarium’s male beluga, Imaq remained in a separate pool, as males can sometimes become aggressive towards calves.
Sheehan said Aurora swam immediately over to Qila and her calf after the gate between the two tanks was opened Monday evening. They reacquainted themselves and then began moving about the pools.
For University of B.C. doctoral student Valeria Vergara, the well-being of the belugas is demonstrated by their frequent vocalization.
Vergara said the calf has been more vocal since its grandmother returned to the pool.
“There has been lots of contact-calling from the calf” since Aurora’s return, Vergara said. Like human babies, belugas are more apt to learn their linguistic skills if they have a variety of belugas to communicate with them.
Understanding beluga communication is one possible method of helping the mammals to survive in a rapidly changing world. The St. Lawrence River beluga population is already endangered and too little is known about Arctic populations to know if the herds there are healthy.
Biologists have learned recently that constant underwater noise can be damaging to belugas, not only the loud noises that were thought to interfere with beluga behavior.
Living in turbid waters, often under the Arctic ice, belugas rely on the world of sound to mate, feed and communicate.
“Their view of the world is through acoustics,” Vergara said. That relationship is especially important between beluga mothers and their calves, which must maintain proximity for frequent feedings.
Vergara said she was particularly interested in learning if Qila’s new calf learns a distinct contact call from its mother, just as its brother Tuvaq did before its death in 2005.
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