False killer whale research in Hawaii

This 2013 video from Ari Atoll in the Maldives is called False Killer Whales caught on tape while feeding.

From Honolulu Civil Beat in Hawaii:

Cluster of False Killer Whales Tagged for First Time Off Kona

Rare group was photographed and tagged last weekend — the first time they’d been seen in four years.

June 11, 2015

By Cliff Hahn

In an exciting encounter with an elusive group of Pseudorca (that’s “false killer whales” in non-geek terms), a team of biologists from Cascadia Research Collective were able to tag three of the cetaceans (marine species that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises) which will enable satellite tracking of their movements throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Each tag is attached remotely (smart idea) and will provide GPS coordinates 10 to 12 times a day for the next few months.

The team was also able to photograph about 20 different individuals and will compare them to an existing photo catalog. “Every adult in the population is distinctive,” says Dr. Robin Baird, a research biologist with Cascadia, the non-profit organization that is leading the research. “We’ve already discovered that one of the individuals photographed was first documented in 1986, twenty-nine years ago.”

The new tags are showing that the whales have remained off the north end of Hawaii Island and in the Alenuihahi. (Channel that separates the island of Hawaii and Maui.)

But where are they going next? That’s anyone’s guess.

False killer whales have not been studied much in the wild — which is why last weekend’s tagging is so important. In November 2012, the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recognized the Hawaiian population of false killer whales, which numbers around 150 individuals, as endangered. Historically, the species was thought extinct until the discovery of a large cluster in the Baltic Sea’s Kiel Bay in 1861.

Researchers refer to false killer whale “social clusters”, which are like killer whale “pods” – long-term groupings of closely related individuals who tend to stick together. “Cluster 1” and “Cluster 3” whales are seen a few times a year. But the recently tagged whales are part of “Cluster 2” and hadn’t been seen by anyone in nearly four years. Hawaii’s false whale population is unique, since they remain within 70 miles of the state’s shore.

“We’ve been hoping to find Cluster 2 for years, but they obviously spend very little time on the leeward sides of the islands where our research is based,” says Baird. “Saturday was our last day on the water and the winds were calm, so we were able to spend time in deep water north of Kona, an area we rarely get to.”

The research project was funded by grants from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center of NOAA Fisheries and the Hawaii Ocean Project, and was undertaken in collaboration with the National Marine Sanctuary.

Humpback whale freed from fishing gear, Hawaii, video

This video from Hawaii says about itself:

Humpback whale successfully freed from entangled gear

21 February 2015

After an eight-hour operation, a humpback whale spotted off Kona last week has been successfully freed of life-threatening gauge line.

Entangled humpback whale freed

This video says about itself:

Exclusive Preview of Humpback Whales of Tahiti

18 February 2014

Along the majestic islands of French Polynesia, host Jeff Corwin explores one of the largest ocean sanctuaries on earth and comes face to face with a family of Humpback whales. Jeff investigates whale biology, conservation, and witnesses the special bond between a protective mother and her precocious calf. It’s a once in a lifetime adventure with some of our planet’s most awe-inspiring animals.

From Associated Press:

Crews free humpback whale tangled in fishing line off Hawaii

February 22 at 7:23 AM

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Officials say a 45-ton humpback whale entangled with fishing line in Hawaii waters for more than a week is finally free.

The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said Saturday that its craft got within 10 feet of the mammal a day earlier and the crew used a pole equipped with a knife to saw the line free.

Ed Lyman of the sanctuary says several hundred feet of line was cut away.

West Hawaii Today reports that when the 45-foot-long whale swam free, all line but a small piece lodged in a wound was off. Lyman says that the fragment will fall away as the wound heals.

The entangled whale was first spotted Feb. 13 off the Big Island’s Kona Coast.

Experts say such entanglements could result in drowning, starvation, infections and increased susceptibility to ship strikes.

Bird webcams in North America

This 4 February 2015 Laysan albatross video from Kauai island in Hawaii is called Dad Ko’olau and baby Niaulani.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Baby Boom on the Bird Cams

Laysan Albatrosses, Season 2: On January 31, Niaulani—an albatross chick on the island of Kauai—hatched under the watchful eye of Malumalu, the mother. Watch Niaulani grow up from a hatchling just six inches long to a massive bird with a seven-foot wingspan by the time it fledges in July.

Great Horned Owls: Two downy young owlets are eagerly taking bits of food from their mother when their father delivers prey. Watch them while you can-—the owlets will grow quickly and are estimated to fledge from their nest in mid-March.

Can’t get enough winter? Watch a bevy of winter birds—Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeaks—on our Ontario FeederWatch Cam.

Great horned owl eggs hatching on webcam

This video from the USA is called Savannah Great Horned Owl Cam Dad Finally Shows Himself! 1-31-15.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Owl Hatch Has Begun!

We’re excited to share the news with you that the first egg in the Savannah Great Horned Owls nest has begun pipping! Late last night a small hole was seen forming and there is a high likelihood of seeing a new downy owlet enter the world over the next 24 hours. “Pipping” refers to the process of the chick initially breaking through the shell, using a hard projection on its bill called the egg tooth. The resulting hole is the “pip” that the chick then enlarges to finish hatching. This year’s pip follows 33 days of incubation by the female Great Horned Owl in often windy and rainy conditions.

Don’t miss your chance to see the young owl emerge live on the Great Horned Owl cam, made possible in partnership with Skidaway Audubon.

As if hatching owls aren’t enough to keep you busy, be sure to also check out our Kauai Laysan Albatross cam where a three-day-old nestling is beginning to adapt to life outside the egg. Special thanks to the Kauai Albatross Network for on-the-ground updates on hatching and invaluable insight on albatross behavior.

We’ll continue to post updates on the Bird Cams Facebook page and on Twitter at @birdcams. Thank you for watching!

Laysan albatross nest on webcam again

This video says about itself:

Midway Atoll, Northwest Hawaiian Islands, North Pacific Ocean.

May 8, 2010.

Two non-breeding Laysan albatrosses perform an intricate courtship dance with Midway Atoll‘s turquoise lagoon serving as backdrop. The earsplitting whistles, braying, rooster-like crows and bill clacking you will hear are all part of Laysan albatrosses‘ wonderful dance. The birds’ courting episodes can last for hours, even being performed through the night.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA today:

The Albatrosses of Kauai Return

Just in time for the first eggs to begin hatching, our Kauai Laysan Albatross cam returns. This year, we’ve upgraded the cam to include infrared illumination for nighttime viewing, and two albatross nests will be visible from the camera!

Last year’s pair, Kaluakane and Kaluahine, continue to nest onsite, but are far from the area that the camera can access. This year you’ll get to know two new albatross families on screen. The parents of the nest in front of the cam under the palm tree are mom Malumalu (band number K312) and dad Ko’olau (KP975); they are the parents of Mango, the young albatross who shared the limelight with Kaloakulua on last year’s Albatross Cam. The parents of the distant nest under the banana tree are dad Akamai (K039) and mom Ala (A379). As with last year, each of the adults has been given a name by a native Hawaiian kumu, or teacher (learn more about their names).

Both nests’ eggs will likely hatch over the next 7 to 10 days—don’t miss out on being among a select few who have ever watched a Laysan Albatross enter the world! Watch live.

Mysterious storms on planet Uranus

This video says about itself:

Extreme Storms Shake the Atmosphere of Uranus

15 November 2014

Storm on Uranus: Astronomers witnessed extreme stormy, huge and bright cloud systems on the planet Uranus. The storm permits the experts to view the hazy blue-green atmosphere of Uranus.

Uranus is an ice giant which is four times larger than the diameter of the Earth. The planet is located 19 times farther from the Sun as compared to the Earth.

From the BBC:

Strange mega storms sweep Uranus

Last year was the stormiest ever on Uranus but astronomers don’t quite know why

Usually there’s not much to see on Uranus, says astronomer Imke de Pater of the University of California, Berkeley. But last year was its stormiest on record.

Ever since its equinox in 2007, when the Sun shined directly on its equator, the seventh planet has been becoming more active. Last year it hit a new peak.

When analysing infrared images of Uranus, Prof de Pater’s team noticed eight large swirling storms in its northern hemisphere in August 2014. One of these storms was the brightest ever observed. It reflected 30% as much light as the rest of the planet, the team reports in the journal Icarus.

Nobody had expected it, says de Pater. It shows how little we understand even about planets inside our own Solar System.

The team analysed bright patches on images of Uranus. These spots of light represent clouds.

They deduced how thick the clouds were, and how high up in the atmosphere. From the altitude they could then infer what the clouds were made of.

The clouds they saw were extremely high up. As they rose ever higher, methane gas condensed into methane ice, causing the clouds to glow.

“The very bright one we saw high in the atmosphere must be methane ice,” says de Pater. “Another one observed by amateur astronomers could be hydrogen sulfide.”

Uranus takes 84 Earth years to travel around the Sun. For half this time one of its poles is in darkness. But during the 2007 equinox each pole was equally lit up, and astronomers expected that this change in illumination would cause a particularly stormy year.

While they did see some turbulent weather, it was nothing compared to the storms of 2014.

Mystery squalls

“We have no idea why this is happening right now,” says de Pater.

The storms might be driven by the changing seasons, but to find out we would need to see if they also occur over the southern hemisphere. That will take many more years. “I don’t think I will live enough to see the whole cycle of Uranus,” she adds.

While we frequently see images from Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, Uranus has only ever been fleetingly visited by one space craft, Voyager 2. But that was in 1986 and it only observed a “featureless haze” of dense clouds.

That’s why scientists rely on images taken at the ground-based Keck observatory in Hawaii. Increasingly, they also combine these with images taken by amateur astronomers, as their telescopes are powerful enough to see Uranus.

NASA Finds Mysterious Bright Spot on Dwarf Planet Ceres: What Is It? Here.

Five Earth-sized planets around the star Kepler-444 may reveal insight on the history of how solar systems develop: here.