25 thoughts on “Stunning drone record of whales checking out a powerboat in the South Pacific

  1. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    July 2016: “Humpback whales around the globe are mysteriously rescuing animals from orcas.
    Scientists are baffled at this seemingly altruistic behavior, which seems to be a concerted global effort to foil killer whale hunts.” http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/humpback-whales-around-globe-are-mysteriously-rescuing-animals-orcas Includes video. See also: “Humpback whales interfering when mammal-eating killer whales attack other species: Mobbing behavior and interspecific altruism?” in the journal Marine Mammal Science (7/20/16)
    and “Weird new sound heard among humpback whales”, which includes an audio clip http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/weird-new-sound-heard-among-humpback-whales

    • Jonah says:

      “For years scientists considered humpback whales to be some of nature’s biggest loners. That is, until observers started spotting throngs of these creatures hanging out in supergroups and feeding frantically en masse.” A study published in Plos One on March 1 [see link] reports the discovery of supergroups in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere, and explains that these humpback gatherings are a “novel and intense” kind of feeding frenzy never before seen.” https://qz.com/930210/humpback-whales-used-to-be-loners-but-now-they-are-hanging-out-in-posses/ “…Ken Findlay of the Mammal Research Institute of Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa led the study reporting on all three research expeditions. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” he told the New Scientist. Findlay estimates that the humpback clusters they’ve been seeing are made up of anywhere from 20 to 200 whales—and possibly more.”

  2. Queequeg says:

    “Modified drones are keeping an eye on the world’s wildlife” http://qz.com/829983/modified-drones-are-keeping-an-eye-on-the-worlds-wildlife/ Among other research projects: “A marine biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, he’s rigged a fleet of small unmanned aerial vehicles—UAVs, or drones—with samplers to catch whales’ exhalations from above. The aim is to get a good enough sample to analyze exhaled microbes and gain a better understanding of the cetaceans’ health.”

  3. Puzzling Evidence™ says:

    Dateline New Jersey: “A whale was spotted in the Hudson River, near the George Washington Bridge on Friday, according to police. http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2016/11/police_track_whale_near_george_washington_bridge.html The Westchester County Police Department said its marine unit followed the humpback whale to the bridge and provided security around the mammal on its river swim. Another police boat, from the Palisades Interstate Parkway department, also reported seeing the whale near the bridge around 1:45 p.m., the agency said on Twitter. Boaters also reported seeing a whale near the Statue of Liberty Thursday morning. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman told The Jersey Journal the whale did not appear to be in distress. Whale sightings in the area are rare, officials said.”

  4. Press release says:

    “How to monitor global ocean warming — without harming whales” https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/uow-htm111916.php “Most of the extra heat trapped by human-generated emissions is ending up in the oceans. But tracking the temperature of the world’s oceans to monitor the change is trickier than it might seem. While satellites monitor surface temperature, measuring the ocean’s interior temperature poses a logistical challenge.
    A University of Washington oceanographer has proposed a method to cheaply monitor temperature throughout the depths of the world’s oceans. He improves on a similar method, proposed in the 1970s, that later caused concerns for harming marine mammals. The paper was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.”

  5. Louie says:

    Bowhead whales, the ‘jazz musicians’ of the Arctic, sing many different songs (University of Washington) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/uow-bwt033018.php “If humpback whale song is like classical music, bowheads are jazz,” said lead author Kate Stafford, an oceanographer at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory. “The sound is more freeform. And when we looked through four winters of acoustic data, not only were there never any song types repeated between years, but each season had a new set of songs.” …”For marine mammals, acoustics is how they do everything,” Stafford said. “Humans are mostly visual animals, but marine mammals live in a three-dimensional habitat where sound and acoustic information is how they navigate, how they find food, how they communicate.”
    See also Gary Larson: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cc/c9/f4/ccc9f4a08dfe4f310787a65f751d8387.jpg

    • Requiem says:

      ‘What extinction looks like’: A young orca’s presumed death cuts endangered whale population to 74 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/09/14/what-extinction-looks-like-a-young-orcas-presumed-death-cuts-endangered-whale-population-to-74/?utm_term=.e2245748df74 Ever since birth, she had to fight to live.
      The deep scratches along her back and dorsal fin not only earned her the nickname “Scarlet,” but may also indicate that the young female orca, J50, came into the world through harrowing means: Pulled out of her mother by other whales using their mouths.
      Still, she survived, and for a while restored hope that she could help her pod — part of an embattled population of southern resident killer whales known to frequent the waters near Washington state — to rebuild their numbers. But Thursday, researchers announced grim news. “J50 is missing and now presumed dead,” according to a news release from the Center for Whale Research, a group based out of San Juan Island that has studied the southern resident killer whales for more than 40 years. The last known sighting of the 3-year-old orca was on Sept. 7, researchers said. Without J50, the population is now down to 74 members — their numbers reached nearly 100 in 1995 — and many of its existing female members are nearing the age where they will no longer be able to reproduce, Ken Balcomb, founder and principal investigator of the Center for Whale Research, told The Washington Post in July. The pod has not produced viable offspring in three years.

      • Sixth Extinction says:

        “Pollution threatens future of killer whales” (BBC News Sept 28, 2018) https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-45673008/pollution-threatens-future-of-killer-whales (includes video)
        “Killer whales are in deep trouble because of persistent chemical pollution in the environment, researchers say.
        A new study suggests the long-term viability of more than half of the different orca groups around the globe is now in question.
        Some populations, such as those around the UK, the Strait of Gibraltar, off Brazil, Japan and California, are almost certainly doomed.”

        • Update says:

          (Oct 4, 2018) A new scientific effort will sequence the genes of critically endangered orcas of the Pacific Northwest to potentially find ways to save them. https://komonews.com/news/local/genes-may-hold-keys-to-saving-endangered-northwest-orcas
          The collaboration announced Thursday involves scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, the nonprofit Nature Conservancy and BGI, a global genomics company.
          The project will sequence the full genome — the entire genetic code of a living thing — of more than 100 southern resident killer whales using samples collected over the past two decades. Initial results are expected next year.
          The orcas have struggled with pollution, boat noise and a dearth of their preferred prey, chinook salmon. There are only 74 in the group that has failed to reproduce successfully in the past three years.

  6. Job 7:12 says:

    “Trump administration settles lawsuit, agrees to protect humpback whale habitat” (8/24/18) https://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Trump-administration-settles-lawsuit-agrees-to-13181480.php
    Rare white humpback whale off Queensland, Australia (video). http://gcaptain.com/incredible-footage-of-rare-white-whale-captured-off-australia/ While whale watchers across the globe were hoping to catch another glimpse of Migaloo, a famous albino humpback that frequents Australian waters each year, researchers are saying that the whale spotted Monday was likely another whale. According to CBC News, whale experts believe the whale seen here to be ‘Son of Migaloo’, who is smaller and whiter than Migaloo and was first spotted in 2011. Of the three white whales known to exist, only Migaloo has been confirmed as true albino, the CBC said.
    See also “Humpback Whale Soaks Whale Watchers | Gustavus, Alaska” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-etKgFalhF0

    • p/s says:

      “…Scientists have examined myoglobin genes in diving animals from tiny water shrews all the way up to giant whales, and discovered a pattern: In many divers, the surface of the protein has a more positive charge. That would make the myoglobin molecules repel each other like two north magnets. This, researchers suspect, allows diving mammals to maintain high concentrations of myoglobin without the proteins glomming together, and thus high concentrations of muscle oxygen when they dive.”

      Re: water shrews (“the smallest of the mammalian divers), “according to Kenneth C. Catania’s research, nocturnally diving shrews manage to locate their prey in the obscured stream by detecting movement along their whiskers or by “underwater sniffing,” a strategy in which they exhale air bubbles onto a perceived target and then re-inhale their own air bubbles to confirm the presence of prey.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_water_shrew

  7. Mike says:

    Saving whales is probably a good way to save the planet, according to a group of scientists who examined the animals’ potential to act as a carbon sink — something that helps reduce carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere by absorbing more carbon than it releases.
    Many nature-based solutions to fighting climate change have focused on the ability of trees and wetlands to capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide. But in a paper published Thursday in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, a group of biologists explores the idea that whales can influence the amount of carbon in the air and in the ocean, potentially contributing to the overall reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/12/15/whales-carbon-sink-climate-change-sequestration/

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