Cetacean Culture

ramonmercado

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World’s most mysterious whale observed for first time (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The elusive Omura’s whale has been documented for the first time ever by an international group of scientists, over a decade after the mysterious mammal was described as a new species.
Previously, no living Omura’s whales had been observed in the wild, according to the study published in the Royal Society Open Space journal.

Researchers confirmed that they are tracing the first-detected living population of Omura’s whales. ...

https://www.rt.com/news/320131-whale-omura-first-video/

 

Krepostnoi

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The potential implications of this story are really quite staggering. The article does not go quite as far as this, suggesting instead a couple of other possible explanations for the behaviour, but could this be empathy - and not just empathy, but empathy *for a different species* - seen in non-human animals? That would be more than some of our fellow humans manage on at least two counts...

Humans might not be the only creatures that care about the welfare of other animals. Scientists are beginning to recognize a pattern in humpback whale behavior around the world, a seemingly intentional effort to rescue animals that are being hunted by killer whales.

Marine ecologist Robert Pitman observed a particularly dramatic example of this behavior back in 2009, while observing a pod of killer whales hunting a Weddell seal trapped on an ice floe off Antarctica. The orcas were able to successfully knock the seal off the ice, and just as they were closing in for the kill, a magnificent humpback whale suddenly rose up out of the water beneath the seal.

This was no mere accident. In order to better protect the seal, the whale placed it safely on its upturned belly to keep it out of the water. As the seal slipped down the whale's side, the humpback appeared to use its flippers to carefully help the seal back aboard. Finally, when the coast was clear, the seal was able to safely swim off to another, more secure ice floe.
 

Mythopoeika

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Altruistic behaviour has also been observed in other creatures, such as dolphins.
I saw a nature program recently that showed a penguin saving the lives of baby penguins of a completely different species.
Lots of stuff like that happens.
 

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Gangs of aggressive killer whales are shaking down Alaska fishing boats for their fish: report
The animals have learned to target individual boats, and are leading fishers on high-speed chases to get away
Last Updated June 21, 2017 1:22 PM EDT

The orcas will wait all day for a fisher to accumulate a catch of halibut, and then deftly rob them blind. They will relentlessly stalk individual fishing boats, sometimes forcing them back into port.

Most chilling of all, this is new: After decades of relatively peaceful coexistence with cod and halibut fishers off the coast of Alaska, the region’s orcas appear to be turning on them in greater numbers.

“We’ve been chased out of the Bering Sea,” said Paul Clampitt, Washington State-based co-owner of the F/V Augustine.

Like many boats, the Augustine has tried electronic noisemakers to ward off the animals, but the orcas simply got used to them.

“It became a dinner bell,” said Clampitt.

John McHenry, owner of the F/V Seymour, described orca pods near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands as being like a “motorcycle gang.”

“You’d see two of them show up, and that’s the end of the trip. Pretty soon all 40 of them would be around you,” he said. ...

http://nationalpost.com/news/world/...port/wcm/4da9c8fa-1884-428d-84bd-03f972e34a0f
 

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Interesting snippet about cooperative behavior between killer whales & whalers in 19th century Australia



In a diary entry in 1843, Sir Oswald Brierly, manager of the whaling station at Twofold Bay in southeast Australia, noted a strange cooperative relationship that had grown up between killer whales and the local whalers:

They [the killer whales] attack the [humpback] whales in packs and seem to enter keenly into the sport, plunging about the [whaling] boat and generally preventing the whale from escaping by confusing and meeting him at every turn. … The whalemen of Twofold Bay are very favourably disposed towards the killers and regard it as a good sign when they see a whale ‘hove to’ by these animals because they regard it as an easy prey when assisted by their allies the killers.

By the early 20th century this curious custom had grown into a complex operation. The killer whales would herd a passing humpback into the bay and harass it there while others swam to the whaling station, breached, and thrashed their tails to alert the whalers. When the whalers arrived and harpooned the humpback, the killers would continue to leap onto its back and blowhole to tire it. In return, the whalers would anchor the dead whale to the bottom for a day or two so that the killers could feast on its lips and tongue.

The whalers came to know many of these killer whales by name: Hooky, Cooper, Typee, Jackson, and so on. The most famous, Old Tom, worked with the Twofold Bay whalers for almost four decades in the early 20th century — he grew famous for gripping the harpoon line with his teeth as each doomed humpback towed the whaleboat through the water. He died in 1930, and his skeleton, complete with grooves in the teeth, now resides in the Eden Killer Whale Museum in New South Wales.
 

FrKadash

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Why Scientists Are Starting to Care About Cultures That Talk to Whales
Arctic people have been communicating with cetaceans for centuries. The rest of the world is finally listening in
By Krista Langlois, Hakai Magazine
smithsonian.com April 6, 2018

“If you start looking at the relationship between humans and animals from the perspective that Indigenous people themselves may have had, it reveals a rich new universe,” says Matthew Betts, an archaeologist with the Canadian Museum of History who studies Paleo-Eskimo cultures in the Canadian Arctic. “What a beautiful way to view the world.”
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science/talking-to-whales-180968698/
 

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New population of genetically distinct blue whales discovered in New Zealand

genetically distinct from whales found in the neighbouring Pacific and Antarctic Oceans, suggesting they are a separate group that lives permanently in the region.

While they are not as large as their Antarctic cousins, the New Zealand population can still reach lengths of around 22 metres.

Having established this new population, the scientists now want to determine exactly how many of them there are inhabiting the large bay of South Taranaki Bight. Their current minimum estimate is 718.

Their discovery is being hailed as significant because the whales’ home in the South Taranaki Bight is also the setting for several oil and gas rigs and is set to be targeted by seafloor mining operations.
 

Min Bannister

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:tears:

A killer whale whose calf died on Tuesday shortly after birth has been spotted pushing its body in waters off the west coast of the US and Canada.

The mother was last seen with the deceased calf at 7:00 pm local time on Thursday (2:00 Friday GMT).

The newborn died on Tuesday off the shores of Victoria, British Columbia.

Killer whales have been known to transport and support their dead calves for as long as a week.

The baby's carcass was sinking and being repeatedly retrieved by the female whale, according to the Center for Whale Research, which studies the Southern Resident killer whale and works on its conservation.
:tears: :tears: :tears:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44984832
 

ramonmercado

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Cue picture of Putin on freed whale.

Russian authorities have ordered the release of nearly 100 whales held captive in cages in Russia's Far East in a case that has drawn the eire of President Vladimir Putin, the public and international film stars.

Images of the whales, kept in cramped enclosures in a bay near the Sea of Japan port town of Nakhodka, first appeared last year, triggering a wave of criticism. The Kremlin has said the 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales were held in cruel conditions and were intended for sale to aquariums and Chinese buyers.

https://www.rte.ie/news/newslens/2019/0301/1033622-whale-jail/
 

Mythopoeika

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Cue picture of Putin on freed whale.

Russian authorities have ordered the release of nearly 100 whales held captive in cages in Russia's Far East in a case that has drawn the eire of President Vladimir Putin, the public and international film stars.

Images of the whales, kept in cramped enclosures in a bay near the Sea of Japan port town of Nakhodka, first appeared last year, triggering a wave of criticism. The Kremlin has said the 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales were held in cruel conditions and were intended for sale to aquariums and Chinese buyers.

https://www.rte.ie/news/newslens/2019/0301/1033622-whale-jail/
'Drawn the eire'?
OK, it is an Irish news source.
 

ramonmercado

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"Killing them with kindness.

Many human grandmothers love to spoil their grandchildren with attention and treats, and for good reason: Studies have shown that having a living grandmother increases a child’s chance of survival. Now, new research shows the same may be true for killer whales. By providing young animals with some freshly caught salmon now and then—or perhaps with knowledge on where to find it—grannies increase their grand-offspring’s chance of survival.

The new study is the first direct evidence in nonhuman animals of the “grandmother hypothesis.” The idea posits that females of some species live long after they stop reproducing to provide extra care for their grandchildren.

“It’s very cool that these long-lived cetaceans have what looks like a postfertile life stage,” says Kristen Hawkes, an anthropologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City who has dedicated much of her career to studying the grandmother effect; she was not involved in the new study. ...

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/granny-killer-whales-pass-along-wisdom-and-extra-fish-their-grandchildren
 

EnolaGaia

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A killer whale whose calf died on Tuesday shortly after birth has been spotted pushing its body in waters off the west coast of the US and Canada. ...
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44984832
Update ... This mother orca who carried her dead calf for more than 2 weeks and 1,000 miles is pregnant again ...
Orca who carried her dead calf for 1,000 miles is pregnant

An orca known as Tahlequah, who raised worldwide concern when she carried her dead calf for 17 days and more than 1,000 miles almost two years ago, is pregnant, scientists said.

Scientists John Durban, senior scientist of Southall Environmental Associates and Holly Fearnbach, marine mammal research director for the nonprofit SR3, recently finished recording drone images of the endangered southern resident whales and discovered pregnancies amid the J, K and L pods, The Seattle Times reported. ...

The pregnancies are not unusual but Tahlequah’s pregnancy carries special meaning for a region that grieved the death of her calf with her.

The southern residents frequent Puget Sound, are struggling to survive, and most pregnancies are not successful. Tahlequah’s baby was the first for the whales in three years. The southern residents have since had two more calves, in J pod and L pod. Both are still alive. ...
FULL STORY: https://apnews.com/7df464414f95c4ac58cb9940e87e9498
 

ramonmercado

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Be careful when you swim with whales.

A woman has suffered serious injuries after being struck and injured while swimming with humpback whales off the coast of Western Australia.

The Australian woman, 29, was with a tour group at the popular Ningaloo Reef on Saturday when she was struck. She reportedly suffered fractured ribs and internal bleeding. St John's Ambulance said the woman had suffered internal bleeding and upper torso injuries "from the crush".

Unconfirmed reports said she was trapped between two of the giant mammals, which can grow up to 19m (62ft). She was treated in the town of Exmouth before being flown to a hospital in Perth, where she was in a "serious but stable condition" on Monday.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-53632975
 

Yithian

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One of these things is not like the other:


But it's a case of Leucism (loss of pigmentation) not albinism:
https://sciencemadefun.net/blog/leucism-vs-albinism/

Young, rare white killer whale, one of five in the world, spotted off Alaskan’s coast: Videos
Updated 8:56 AM; Today 8:56 AM

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By Janet Krajcsik | [email protected]

A white killer whale, spotted off the coast of Alaska on Aug. 7, is thought to be one of an estimated five in the world, according to a story in the New York Post.

Identified as Tl’uk, the two-year-old pale male was swimming alongside a pair of adult orcas when he was identified by whale watchers. Tl’uk and his pod have been sighted frequently in British Columbia and Washington state, but this was his first ever never documented sighting in Alaska.

Researchers nicknamed him Tl’uk, the Coast Salish word for “moon,” because of his lunar-like grayish-white color. He is a Bigg’s killer whale first spotted in November 2018.


Full Article:
https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-...&utm_campaign=oregonian_sf&utm_source=twitter
 

ramonmercado

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A well traveled whale.

A humpback whale has amazed experts by appearing in the Mediterranean 34 years after it was last seen in the Caribbean almost 5,000 miles away.

The 43ft (13m) female whale, accompanied by a calf, initially caused a stir when she was spotted off the coast of Liguria in Italy since humpbacks rarely venture into the Mediterranean.

Experts got a bigger surprise when set about identifying her from the distinct patches of pigmentation on her tail.

“Humpbacks usually migrate on north-south routes and we checked with experts in the Azores and Iceland but found no match with the pigmentation, which is like a fingerprint for a humpback,” Giulia Calogero, head of Italian marine charity Menkab, said ...

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/wandering-whale-plots-her-own-course-to-the-med-wl8mzh7zm
 

ramonmercado

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Reminds me of that Simpsons episode where the dolphins revolted.

Scientists have been left baffled by incidents of orcas ramming sailing boats along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts.

In the last two months, from southern to northern Spain, sailors have sent distress calls after worrying encounters. Two boats lost part of their rudders, at least one crew member suffered bruising from the impact of the ramming, and several boats sustained serious damage.

The latest incident occurred on Friday afternoon just off A Coruña, on the northern coast of Spain. Halcyon Yachts was taking a 36ft boat to the UK when an orca rammed its stern at least 15 times, according to Pete Green, the company’s managing director. The boat lost steering and was towed into port to assess damage.

Around the same time there were radio warnings of orca sightings 70 miles south, at Vigo, near the site of at least two recent collisions. On 30 August, a French-flagged vessel radioed the coastguard to say it was “under attack” from killer whales. Later that day, a Spanish naval yacht, Mirfak, lost part of its rudder after an encounter with orcas under the stern. ...

https://www.theguardian.com/environ...-launch-orchestrated-attacks-on-sailing-boats
 

ramonmercado

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Phew! I feared the crocs would eat the whale eventually.

A humpback whale that took a wrong turn into a crocodile-infested river in Australia has safely returned to sea.

The whale was first seen in the Northern Territory (NT) river over a week ago, prompting fears it may get stuck in shallow waters or hit a boat. Two others also swam into the East Alligator River for a short time before returning to their sea migration. The remaining whale managed to find its way out over the weekend during high tides, Parks Australia said on Monday.

It is the first known instance of humpback whales in the river in the Kakadu National Park, on the country's northern coast. Officials had been monitoring the final whale closely since it was spotted up to 30km (18.5 miles) inland by people on boats. ...

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-54230578
 

Min Bannister

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Reminds me of that Simpsons episode where the dolphins revolted.
Another Orca attack described here. I think they have had enough. :(

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-54292317

During their 45-minute ordeal, off Cape Finisterre, they prepared the life raft as the Promise 3 was rocked and spun round.

They later discovered a 1.5sq ft chunk had been bitten out of the fibreglass rudder.

Speaking from La Coruna, where the yacht is undergoing repairs, Mr Walker said: "I felt a thump on the boat and the helm was pulled out my hand.

"I was not really sure what was happening, then one of the animals broke the surface, on the left hand side of the boat, for breath."
 

hunck

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Mysterious beaked whale smashes mammal diving record

Cuvier's beaked whales are known for their abilities to dive deep and they average around an hour under water.

But researchers were astounded when they recorded one animal diving for three hours and 42 minutes.

They believe that it is the longest dive yet recorded for any whale and almost certainly a record for all mammals as well.

Beaked whale species are a bit of mystery to scientists, spending much of their time far from shore.

Scientists say that in pursuing their favourite food [squid], these whales have been documented diving down to around 3,000m.

When they surface they spend about two minutes before diving again, meaning it is very difficult for researchers to observe and tag them.

In this latest study, researchers recorded more than 3,600 dives by two dozen Cuvier's beaked whales over a five-year period.

They recorded dives lasting from around half an hour to two hours thirteen minutes, well past the point at which an animal of this size should run out of oxygen.

But two dives by one individual whale "astounded" the research team.

One was almost three hours long, another three hours 42 minutes.

Fear may also have played a part in the record dive.

This species is vulnerable to killer whales and larger sharks. The whales react to threats by staying underwater as long as possible, until the predators move away.

And the deep dive may also have been in response to humans. The record took place some 24 days after exposure to a US Navy active sonar signal, and the researchers excluded them from their data set, as they could potentially have been impacted by the noise.

The research team found that there was little relationship between the length of dive and the recovery time needed by the whales before going down once again.
 

Min Bannister

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They do it on porpoise.
Normally I like your puns but I am too sad about this. :(

Now the Moray Firth dolphins are moving out.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-54484748

A dolphin usually seen in a Scottish firth has been spotted off Denmark.
...

He is the latest member of the Moray Firth's population of bottlenose dolphins to have been spotted far from home.
Last year, members of the group were found to have travelled to Ireland's south west coast and the Netherlands.
Scientists have sought to understand the behaviour.
It's just a guess but vast offshore windfarms plus ship engines at Invergordon so loud that they shake the ground never mind the sea might have something to do with it.
 
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