Two sperm whales saved from stranding

This 2 April 2016 video from Breskens in Zeeland province in the Netherlands shows a sperm whale swimming and blowing.

Translated from RTL TV in the Netherlands today:

Two sperm whales have been successfully returned to sea this morning, after they had been seen in the Westerschelde estuary between Vlissingen and Breskens.

Volunteers of the lifeboat organisation KNRM and Rijkswaterstaat with their boats made a funnel on the water so that the sperm whales could only swim towards the sea. “The operation was successful. The sperm whales are off Cadzand,” said a spokesperson for Rijkswaterstaat.

England: East coast sperm whales stranding investigation continues: here.

Smallest beached Texel sperm whale was 19 years old

This video from the USA says about itself:

Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Sperm Whales

12 March 2013

The Sperm whale holds many records. It is the deepest-diving whale on Earth, the largest toothed whale on Earth and has the largest brain on the planet too. On top of that, it has a reputation for being a vicious beast, thanks in part to Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick. But the real Sperm whale is a lot different than people think.

It has a highly-evolved social life, operates at depths where nobody can see them most of the time, and uses sonar which is so sophisticated that it makes the Navy’s electronics look like toys. Sperm whales are very hard to find and even harder to film. In the Caribbean, Jonathan repeatedly attempts to get close to the elusive whales, until finally he succeeds and has an incredible experience eye to eye with a giant who investigates him with powerful sonar clicks.

Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island in the Netherlands:

Smallest sperm whale was 19 years old – 23-03-2016

The five sperm whales which stranded last January near beach post 12 along the Texel coast were young males, which was already known.

Of one of the dead animals the exact age has been determined. In a sawed off tooth of the sperm whale researchers counted 19 rings. Although it was the smallest animal, only 9.6 meters long, is not sure if it was the youngest whale. The length and the age of sperm whales do not always correspond simply. The teeth of the other animals will be examined later.

Other research continues as well.

The jaw of this 19-year-old male is now in Ecomare museum.

Scottish Orkney islands whale watching

This video from Scotland says about itself:

4 December 2014

Orkney is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna all year round. We are perhaps best known for our seabirds and seals, but there are many more species here, including many other birds, the tiny but very elusive Orkney vole and the even tinier Primula scotica.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The Orkney call to eco whale-watchers

Friday 18th March 2016

PETER FROST is off to an archipelago full of spectacular vantage points for a highly rewarding observation of its rich wildlife from puffins to whales and its ancient history

New Zealand, Australia, New England and California are just a few places advertising themselves as holiday destinations at the moment. Most of them make great play of the fact that you can watch whales as part of your holiday.

In fact you don’t need to go that far, or spend anywhere near as much money, if you want to make whale spotting a main theme of your break.

Many of us, I am sure, have had our interest in whales sharpened by the tragic strandings of five huge sperm whales in Norfolk and Lincolnshire early this year.

There are whales in waters around the British Isles and thats why I’m planning to go back to Orkney this summer, where I fully expect to see some whales and other sea mammals as well as other, just as exciting, wildlife.

Orkney is a great holiday destination, fabulous scenery, a rich history from pre-historic tombs, Stone-Age villages to memories of the last two world wars.

There is a rich cultural heritage with Orcadian fiddle music being famous around the globe.

Add to that amazing seabirds like puffins and gannets, seals, otters, even leatherback turtles and so much more to see.

Best of all are the cetaceans, the whales, dolphins and porpoises that are so often seen, not from special and expensive whale-watching boats but from the headlands and inter-island ferries.

More and more conscientious nature lovers are trying to do their whale-watching from the shore rather than the sometimes huge fleets of boats that can so often cause distress to whales.

Most spectacular of these Orkney sightings have been of killer whales. I’ve seen there a pod of killer whales or orcas, which happens several times most years — in fact 90 per cent of such sightings in Britain are off Orkney and Shetland.

The so called killer whale isn’t actually a whale at all. It is a large and truly spectacular member of the dolphin family. Orcas can measure up to 9.7m (32 feet) in length. They are easy to recognise by their distinctive black and white markings.

This awe-inspiring ocean predator lives in social groups called pods with the oldest female taking the lead role.

Pods with up to 150 animals have been spotted off Orkney.

They mainly hunt for fish including herring and mackerel but also snatch seals and porpoises, often seen throwing their prey up in the air.

The best time to see them around Orkney is between May and September although they are present all year round.

Other common whale sightings in the area are of the most numerous baleen whale, the minke whale. These marine mammals, with plates and sieve-like hairs in place of teeth, can reach up to 8.5m (28 feet) and are slender with a central ridge and a small dorsal fin. The hotspots to see minkes are the coastal waters around headlands and smaller islands.

Other, rarer whales which have been Orkney visitors include the pilot whale, sperm whale, humpback whale, fin whale, sei whale and very rarely the biggest animal ever to appear on our planet, the blue whale.

A 50-foot sperm whale appeared in shallow water near Kirkwall Pier in October a year or so ago. It remained there for some time before heading out to deeper water.

Huge whales are sometimes washed ashore during storms and often when already dead. Sometimes they perish on the beach as refloating them is near impossible and rarely can they escape to deeper waters.

In days past a whale stranding was a cause of celebration as it meant a large source of food, oil and bone. Huge pods of pilot whales would mysteriously beach themselves and people would come from all over the islands to harvest the unexpected bounty.

In earlier times whales were driven ashore by islanders. Many Orcadians joined the whale fishing fleets to Iceland and Greenland in the 18th and 19th centuries and later crewed the British whaling steamers that caused such destruction to Antarctic whale populations.

Now in Orkney the appearance of the whale is heralded as a good omen for eco-tourism, rather than food or whale oil.

The Stromness Museum on Orkney displays the rich story of Orcadian whalers with the artefacts including scrimshaw — carved and elaborately engraved whale ivory.

For the best whale-watching, I would recommend Cantick Head on the island of Hoy, Noup Head on the island of Westray and North Hill on the tiny island of Papa Westray. The latter can be reached by the world’s shortest scheduled flight that takes two minutes.

Do remember Orkney isn’t an island but an archipelago known by the collective name Orkney. The locals will quickly correct you if you refer to their home as the Orkneys. Each island in the group has its own name and its own unique character.

Wren and sperm whale on Texel island

Wren on tree, 8 March 2016

After 7 March 2016 on Texel island came 8 March. When we saw this wren in the forest.

Earlier, east of Den Hoorn, a skylark flying and singing.

Near the Novalishoeve farm, a flock of jackdaws.

A greenfinch.

In the forest, a song thrush sings. A great tit.

A chaffinch sings.

Wood ear fungi on a fallen branch.

We arrive at Ecomare museum, and at their animal rehab center.

In the birds’ center at the moment mainly gannets. And one great cormorant. Other injured or sick birds brought to the center include herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, razorbills and guillemots.

In the harbour porpoise pool there are two porpoises. They beached when they were still very young, unable to survive in the North Sea not having learnt so from their mothers. In the pool they get herring and capelin fish.

Common seal, Ecomare, 8 March 2016

In the harbour seal rehab pools, some animals looked relaxed.

Finally, the new whale hall. Paid for by the sperm whale beached in December 2012 on Razende Bol islet near Texel. That whale turned out to have much valuable ambergris in its entrails. The ambergris meant enough money for a hall, 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.

Sperm whales’ ultrasound, video

This video says about itself:

Feeling The Force of Sperm Whales Ultrasound – Super Giant Animals – BBC

11 March 2016

Sperm whales can hunt in total darkness under the sea but how? Steve Backshall explains how sperm whales use sound to build up a picture of their environment as he gets up close to them.

Beaked whale beaches in Dutch Zeeland

Beaked whale beached near Vlissingen

Dutch regional broadcaster Omroep Zeeland reports that yesterday evening a beached beaked whale was found near Vlissingen.

Beaked whales are very rare in the North Sea.

The animal, about five meter long, has been transported to the veterinary department of Utrecht university; to find out why the animal died and which beaked whale species it is.

Entangled humpback whale frees itself, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

Entangled Humpback Whale Frees Itself Off Dana Point As Whale Watchers Cheer

4 March 2016

Whale watchers aboard a catamaran with Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Safari were viewing a humpback whale when they noticed that the whale seemed to be playing with a shrimp trap buoy located about 2 and 1/2 miles off the coast of Dana Point, California. Several minutes later the whale dove down and entangled itself around the tail.

Scientists witness extraordinary feeding event as humpback whales feast on krill ‘super-swarm’: here.

Why Humpback Whales Protect Other Animals From Killer Whales. It’s possible humpbacks are rescuing seals, sunfish, and other species by mistake, but there’s a chance they have altruistic motivations: here.