Fossil whale discovery in Vietnam


Whale fossil, discovered in Vietnam

From Vietnamnet:

06/04/2015

Local resident discovers whale fossil in Ha Tinh

A large piece of a whale‘s fossilised vertebra has just been found in the central province of Ha Tinh.

The fossil, measuring 37cm by 35cm by 80cm and weighing 19kg, was discovered accidentally at Thach Khe metal mine, 1km from Thach Hai Beach, by a local person named Duong Dinh Canh.

Director of Ha Tinh Museum Nguyen Tri Son and Australian archaeologist Philip Palmer examined the fossil and determined it was part of a whale‘s vertebral column. But they cannot determine the exact age of the fossil till some more research is done.

The experts will soon transport the fossil to the provincial museum for further study and exhibition.

Gray whale spring migration


This video from the USA is called Gray Whale Migration.

From the Everett Herald in Washington sate, USA:

Saturday, April 4, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

Gray whales make their annual return, though a bit late

By Sharon Salyer

Gray whales have been spotted near Whidbey and Camano islands, part of their annual spring layover on their way from Mexico to Alaska. You don’t necessarily have to board a boat to see their heart-shaped spouts and their V-shaped flukes. They can be spotted from shoreline areas in Snohomish County and from spots such as Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island and Ebey’s Landing beach and bluffs on Whidbey Island, according to the Orca Network.

The whales’ return was just a tad off schedule this year, said John Calambokidis, a research biologist for Cascadia Research, an Olympia-based nonprofit which studies marine mammals. “We were just a little nervous that some didn’t show up,” he said. A group of about 10 whales can sometimes stop over in the Whidbey and Camano island areas in mid-February or early March. “The earliest we had one of these whales was the first weekend in March,” he said, with more arriving by mid-March.The core group sometimes is joined by other whales intermittently, he said.

“This is just some sort of in-between pit stop for them,” Calambokidis said. “They’ll often be here for several months. ”The stop is off their migration route, which continues north, he said. The ones that stop have learned that there’s something good to eat here — ghost shrimp. Susan Berta, co-founder of the Orca Network and the Langley Whale Center, said the whales usually remain in the area through May. About six whales have been seen so far, she said. Sightings often are reported in Possession Sound, Saratoga Passage and offshore areas of Island and Snohomish counties, she said.

A bell rings in one of Langley’s parks when whales are spotted. The town hosts an annual Whales Festival, scheduled this year for April 18 and 19. The same group of 10 to 12 whales makes an annual local stop on their migration route from Baja, Mexico, then continues their trek north to the Bering Sea, she said. There’s never been a confirmed sighting of a calf during the time the whales make their local stop, Calambokidis said. They’re predominately males, but three females have been identified in the group. The females “tend to have little more spotty history of showing up here,” he said. “We suspect that may be because in the years they have calves, they don’t make this stop.

”One gray whale seemed to accidentally discover the marine feast of the local ghost shrimp feeding grounds, he said. “He wandered around Puget Sound for a while in the early 1990s before discovering how rich the areas around Island County are for ghost shrimp. “Now he comes back directly to that spot,” Calambokidis said.Cascadia Research plans on doing some study later this month on what proportion of the whales’ total diet while they’re here is ghost shrimp, particularly in the intertidal areas where people harvest the shrimp for bait.The nonprofit is working with the state Department of Natural Resources to investigate how much competition there is between the needs of the gray whales for the shrimp and people’s harvest of the shrimp, he said. Gray whales are thought to live up to 50 years and weigh about 20,000 pounds.

Older female killer whales become pod leaders


This video is called Documentary The Orca – The Intelligent Killer WhaleNational Geographic.

From the Los Angeles Times in the USA:

Menopausal whales lead the group, study says

By Melissa Healy

Sharelines

Mystery solved (maybe): Some females live beyond their reproductive years because their wisdom benefits kin

Menopause: an evolutionary mystery unique to humans, killer whales and short-finned pilot whales

Female killer whales can live past 90. Males rarely survive after 50

What does an ocean-going titaness do after she has the lost the ability to bear young?

Well, for starters, she goes on living–sometimes past the ripe old age of 90, while male killer whales over 50 are dying off in droves. Throughout the animal kingdom, that is unusual enough.

But the menopausal female killer whale does more than survive, says a new study: She “leans in,” becoming an influential leader of younger killer whales, honing the survival skills of her progeny–and their progeny–unencumbered by direct childcare duties of her own.

Quite the opposite of being a burden to her kind, her post-menopausal leadership role seems to make the older female killer whale her species’ evolutionary ace in the hole.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the new research finds that among killer whales, females beyond their reproductive years become habitual leaders of collective movement–generally foraging movement–within their pods. Their position “on point” becomes particularly prominent in lean years, when salmon–the mainstay of the killer whales’ diet–is scarce.

The new findings offer the first evidence that in certain species and under specific circumstances, females who live well beyond their reproductive years “act as repositories of ecological knowledge.”

That helps solve an enduring mystery among biologists: Why–in humans and in two species of toothed whales only–would individuals who no longer propagate their genes continue to survive?

The authors of the study are marine mammal researchers from the universities of York and Exeter in Great Britain and the Center for Whale Research in Washington state. To glean their findings, they analyzed 751 hours of video taken of Southern resident killer whales during annual salmon migrations off the coast of British Columbia and Washington.

The videos were taken over a period of nine years. They captured the movements of pods of killer whales whose populations have been identified and tracked since 1976. That allowed the researchers to determine the age and relatedness of the 102 creatures whose movements they analyzed.

Such detail also allowed the authors to speculate on why post-menopausal survival is so very rare. If post-reproductive females can be such an evolutionary boon for their kin, why do they not survive to serve that function across many species?

Some have suggested that for humans, at least, the post-menopausal survival of women is merely an artifact of better medical care.

Not so, new research–including the killer whales study–suggests. The answer, the authors of this study wrote, may lie in different kinship patterns. Among killer whales, generations of males and females stay together throughout their lives, foraging as a group. As a female ages, her level of genetic relatedness to members of her pod increases.

“Menopause will only evolve,” they wrote, “when inclusive fitness benefits outweigh the costs of terminating reproduction.”

In short, an older female’s continued value to the group may be a function not only of her accumulated knowledge about the whereabouts of food, shelter and predators, but also of her genetic stake in the group’s survival.

That was the case, too, in hunter-gatherer human societies, the authors note. As human societies evolved, women reaching sexual maturity tended to leave the group. As her sons and their many mates and children populated her group, an aging woman’s “relatedness” to that group tended to grow.

In contrast, among other long-lived mammals, sons move off as they reach sexual maturity. So a female becomes less related to the “pod” she stays with as she become older. Under those circumstances, the authors write, she may have sufficient ecological wisdom but not a sufficient level of “relatedness” to her group to ensure her survival beyond the years of reproduction.

Unique bowhead whale swims near Cornwall


This video is called Bowhead Whale of the Arctic (Nature Documentary).

From ITV in Britain:

Bowhead whale spotted in Cornish waters

A whale never before seen in European waters has been sighted off the Cornish coast.

The Bowhead whale is usually found in the Arctic. The Sea Watch Foundation made this extraordinary discovery after mysterious pictures were sent in showing an animal whose head shape and jaw line didn’t match with descriptions of any of the expected whale species.

The pictures were sent in by Anna Cawthray, taken on a friend’s mobile phone. They showed the 25 ft long whale that she’d encountered off Par Beach on the island of St Martin’s.

Sea Watch’s Sightings Officer, Kathy James, sent the photos to other experts who confirmed the sighting as a bowhead whale. They say its “extraordinary” to see a bowhead in these waters.

Last updated Sat 28 Feb 2015

BBC – Earth – Do whales have graveyards where they prefer to die? Here.

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.

Pakistani fishermen save rare whale


This video says about itself:

Endangered whale saved by brave fishermen – Pakistan

18 February 2015

An extremely rare whale, identified as most probably a Longman’s beaked whale, was successfully rescued from gillnet off Pakistan – all thanks to the training provided to the crew as part of a WWF-Pakistan project.

It took 30 minutes, but this stunning whale was freed and swam away!

According to a WWF message on Twitter today:

15 whale sharks, 3 manta rays, 2 sunfishes, and now 1 whale have been rescued from gillnets off Pakistan.

After the humpback whale saved near Hawaii