New Zealand whales back after earthquake


This video says about itself:

10 August 2016

Kaikoura is the Whale Watching capital of New Zealand, every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. A typical Whale Watch tour may encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season you may also see migrating Humpback Whales, Pilot Whales, Blue Whales and Southern Right Whales. Kaikoura often hosts the worlds largest dolphin the Orca and is home to the worlds smallest and rarest marine dolphin the Hector’s. Kaikoura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and 7 types of Shearwater.

By Cate Broughton in New Zealand:

Excitement as first whales seen off Kaikoura coast since earthquake

17:59, November 20 2016

With their distinctive clicks the whales were back.

For Whale Watch Kaikoura general manager Kauahi Nga Pora and two staff, it came as a huge relief.

Using a tracking device called a hydrophone they were able to pick up the sound made by whales.

“We put the hydrophone in and then all of a sudden we heard the clicks… so instantly we knew there was a whale there, so obviously there was a fair amount of celebrating going on just with that.”

Six days after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake a high tide allowed the Whale Watch crew to get their boat out and check on the tahora – the sperm whale Kaikoura is famed for.

About 30 minutes after the clicks they tracked it down and were overcome with emotion, Nga Pora said.

“..the whale came up and it was just.. party time. Just to be right next to the whale after everything that has gone on it was quite, quite emotional actually.”

Nga Pora said he felt deep down the whales would not abandon their home in Kaikoura but with experts and scientists unsure of their response to the disruption of the quake, he was uncertain.

After the first sighting they moved to another location and saw another four whales.

As the group headed back to the coastline they saw seals, Dusky dolphins and birds including albatross, Nga Pora said.

“So that whole canyon environment that has built Kaikoura is still there, so that’s a significant boost to us all.”

There are still huge obstacles ahead before the business can open to tourists again, including access to Kaikoura and repair of the marina, which is now unusable in low tide.

But Nga Pora said seeing the whales had given him the drive to make it work once again.

“So once all those material things are fixed, the fabric and the core of the place is still there so we will be able to charge on and deliver the experience that so many people want to enjoy.”

With many homes destroyed, no water or power and cut off from assistance by road, the business and it’s staff had been in “survival mode”, looking after the people affected by earthquake.

It was not until Sunday, six days later, their thoughts turned to the future and the whales it depended on.

Whale Watch Kaikoura employs between 50-70 people and is the largest employer in the township, Nga Pora said.

“Our fortunes align with the fortune of many people and many rely on Whale Watch to survive.”

Narwhal echolocation, new research


This 2014 video says about itself:

Narwhal Whale – Fun Fact Series EP43

The Narwhal whale is unique among whale species and has a long ivory tusk that extends from the upper left side of its jaw.

The tusks measure 7 to 10 feet in length.

Narwhals swim belly up and lie motionless for several minutes and this has earned them the name, “corpse whale.”

Narwhals use their forehead to feel sound waves and hear each other as they bounce through water.

From Science News:

Narwhals are really, really good at echolocation

by Helen Thompson

11:33am, November 11, 2016

Narwhals use highly targeted beams of sound to scan their environment for threats and food. In fact, the so-called unicorns of the sea (for their iconic head tusks) may produce the most refined sonar of any living animal.

A team of researchers set up 16 underwater microphones to eavesdrop on narwhal click vocalizations at 11 ice pack sites in Greenland’s Baffin Bay in 2013. The recordings show that narwhal clicks are extremely intense and directional — meaning they can widen and narrow the beam of sound to find prey over long and short distances. It’s the most directional sonar signal measured in a living species, the researchers report November 9 in PLOS ONE.

The sound beams are also asymmetrically narrow on top. That minimizes clutter from echoes bouncing off the sea surface or ice pack. Finally, narwhals scan vertically as they dive, which could help them find patches of open water where they can surface and breathe amid sea ice cover. All this means that narwhals employ pretty sophisticated sonar.

The audio data could help researchers tell the difference between narwhal vocalizations and those of neighboring beluga whales. It also provides a baseline for assessing the potential impact of noise pollution from increases in shipping traffic made possible by sea ice loss.

Bowhead whale drone video


This video says about itself:

Bowhead Whale Drone Video 2016 Season Research Highlights

from Brian Whiteside

In 2016 VDOS Global supported research on Bowhead Whales in the Arctic using Drones. This video contains some of the video captured during the summer of 2016 missions. Contact VDOS Global at inforequest@vdosglobal.us for more information. Flight operations managed by dronecomplier.com VDOS Global Copyright 2016.

Barnacles’ information about whales


This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Rare Blue Whale with Many Barnacles

9 July 2015

Just very close and shallow to the shore of the Torrey Pines Cliffs, with the depth of between 150 and 200 feet, the blue whale had so many black specks all over its body! It also had a dorsal fin that had been torn off and shaped like a sickle! It is very unusual for a blue whale to have very many barnacles.

From Science News:

Barnacles track whale migration

Chemical composition of hitchhikers’ shells might reveal ancient baleen travel routes

By Thomas Sumner

12:01pm, September 27, 2016

DENVER — Barnacles can tell a whale of a tale. Chemical clues inside barnacles that hitched rides on baleen whales millions of years ago could divulge ancient whale migration routes, new research suggests.

Modern baleen whales migrate thousands of kilometers annually between breeding and feeding grounds, but almost nothing is known about how these epic journeys have changed over time. Scientists can glean where an aquatic animal has lived based on its teeth. The mix of oxygen isotopes embedded inside newly formed tooth material depends on the region and local temperature, with more oxygen-18 used near the poles than near the equator. That oxygen provides a timeline of the animal’s travels. Baleen whales don’t have teeth, though. So paleobiologists Larry Taylor and Seth Finnegan, both of the University of California, Berkeley, looked at something else growing on whales: barnacles. Like teeth, barnacle shells take in oxygen as they grow.

Patterns of oxygen isotopes in layers of barnacle shells collected from modern beached whales matched known whale migration routes, Taylor said September 25 at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. Five-million-year-old barnacle fossils have analogous oxygen isotope changes, preliminary results suggest. Converting those changes into migration maps, however, will require reconstructing how oxygen isotopes were distributed long ago, Taylor said.

What sperm whales eat


This video says about itself:

Bull Sperm Whale Vs Female Colossal Squid

31 May 2014

A battle between the biggest predator and the biggest invertebrate.

However, most cephalopods eaten by sperm whales are considerably smaller than this.

A sperm whale beached in December 2012 on Razende Bol islet near Texel island in the Netherlands. That whale turned out to have much valuable ambergris in its entrails. The ambergris meant enough money for a new exhibition hall for Ecomare museum on Texel, big enough for the skeletons not only of the sperm whale, but also of the humpback whale beached also on Razende Bol a few days earlier; and of a killer whale.

Except for the ambergris, also jaws of five cephalopod species were found in the beached sperm whale’s entrails. They were: Gonatus fabricii, Histioteuthis bonellii, Todarodes (Ommatostrephes) sagittatus, Teuthowenia megalops en Haliphron atlanticus.

Ecomare museum does not exhibit most of these octopus and squid jaws in its whale hall, the museum’s Arthur Oosterbaan said this morning on Dutch Vroege Vogels radio. Most of them are kept separately for scientific research.

White killer whale seen again


This video from Russia says about itself:

White orca in the Fourth Kuril Strait

19 September 2014

In August-September we surveyed the southeastern coast of Kamchatka and Northern Kuril Islands as part of a humpback whale project funded by Russian Geographical Society. In the Fourth Kuril Strait, between Onekotan and Paramushir islands, we met a large aggregation of orcas, but soon after we started photographing them for photo-IDs, the fog thickened. Soon, we couldn’t see anything further than hundred meters, so we stopped to listen for the sounds. Suddenly a group of orcas approached us, and right next to the boat, a white orca surfaced. It was not the famous Iceberg, but a small white orca, likely a juvenile. We soon lost the whale in the fog, but the image was fixed in our mind and in this short piece of video. We hope to meet more white orcas next year.

From Seeker.com:

Sep 2, 2016 10:32 AM ET

All-White Orca ‘Iceberg’ Spotted After Long Absence

The 22-year-old marine mammal is one of a handful of white killer whales that have been documented in Russian waters.

“Iceberg,” an all-white male orca, was spotted after a four-year absence, according to the organization Russian Orcas.

“Iceberg is still travelling with his family of fish-eating orcas,” the organization wrote on Facebook, noting that its FEROPS (Far East Russia Orca Project) team made the sighting.

Iceberg was first spotted off Russia’s Commander Islands in the North Pacific in 2010 by FEROPS scientists and then seen again, in 2012. Believed to be about 22 years old now, he appeared healthy then — a member of a fish-eating pod, in contrast with some killer whale pods that chiefly dine on other marine mammals — though the nature of his all-white status was still up in the air. “We don’t even know if he is a true albino,” FEROPS researcher Erich Hoyt told LiveScience in 2012.

RELATED: Rare White Orca Seen Off Coast of Russia

Now, though, Iceberg has reappeared for the cameras, off Russia’s Kuril Islands, and it turns out he’s not the only white orca on the scene. FEROPS scientists have just published a paper in the journal Aquatic Mammals in which they document the existence of 5 to 8 other white orcas in Russian waters.

The scientists remain unsure of the reason for the orcas’ distinctive coloring, including that of Iceberg. True albinism is a genetic disorder that leaves the skin without pigmentation.

“Russian waters appear to be the world’s number one area for white killer whales who may be leucistic (patchy white pigmentation) or true albinos,” Russian Orcas noted on Facebook. “It’s a dubious honor. As reported in our paper, albinism probably indicates inbreeding of small populations.”

“Albinos or leucistic .. we’re not sure,” Hoyt wrote on social media.

RELATED: Albino Whale ‘Gallon of Milk’ Spotted off Mexico

An especially close-up look at the alabaster animals could help.

“With regard to Iceberg’s pod, we have no genetic data,” Hoyt wrote on whales.org after the 2012 sighting, “but we are hoping to meet them again in summer 2012 and learn more about the phenomenon of white whales, why they occur, what it means and whether Iceberg is a true albino — perhaps we can catch a glimpse of a pink eye — or ‘just’ one of the most beautiful orcas anyone has ever seen.”

White whale Migaloo protected by Australian police


This video from Australia says about itself:

24 September 2012

A one in a million chance encounter with Migaloo the white Humpback Whale as he leaves the Great Barrier Reef, migrating back to Antarctica after spending the worst of the southern hemisphere winter off Port Douglas.

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 28 July 2016:

Migaloo under escort as whale watchers get too close for comfort

By Elise Kinsella and Damien Larkins

Authorities are escorting Migaloo the white whale up the south-east Queensland coast after a complaint of onlookers getting too close.

The Queensland State Government is investigating a complaint about people getting too close to the white whale off the Gold Coast.

As white whales are classified as special management marine creatures, boats must stay 500 metres from them, and aircrafts and drones must keep a distance of 610 metres.

Rangers will begin helping to protect Migaloo during his northern migration on Thursday, until he reaches the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said it was important whale watchers respected the protection zones.

“The last thing we would want to see is for a whale like this to be injured in a boat strike,” he said.

“It’s just so important people keep their distance, especially as we understand there are a number of boats there.”

He said whale watchers could be fined if they went within the protection zones.

Humpback whales, they are big creatures, they can behave erratically,” he said.

Southern Cross University whale expert Dr Wally Franklin said tourist boats could stress humpback whales if they came too close.

“It’s very important while these whales are in this northward migration not to interfere with their travel, not to get in front of them,” he said.

“You only approach him at a very slow speed, matching his speed; you only come in from the left or right and do not interfere with his line of travel.”

White whale-watching rules:

Boats must stay 500 metres away

Aircraft and drones must stay 610 metres away

Approach whales from parallel and slightly to rear – never from behind or head-on

Move off slowly and leave no wake

Do not get into the water