Behaviour

Humpback whale breaching

Hungry humpbacks get sneaky on speedy fish

Lunge-feeding humpback whales plunge into dense schools of small fish to feed on them. However, these small fish tend to be pretty fast. So, just how do huge whales sneak up on such speedy prey if they are as huge and overbearing as a ... well, whale?

This question became the focus of a study at Stanford University. Its findings was subsequently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Female orcas have extremely long postreproductive life spans; they stop reproducing in their late 30s and early 40s but can continue to live for decades thereafter

Orca grandmothers improve survival of their grandoffspring

In a study involving 378 orcas (or killer whales), researchers observed the first non-human example of the "grandmother effect" in a menopausal species.

This is when post-reproductive grandmothers (in this case, orcas) assist other members of the species with their offspring, thereby improving the young ones’ chances of survival. It was found that these post-reproductive orcas had the largest beneficial impact on their grandoffspring’s survival chances.

The Bahamas’ Tiger Beach: Petting Zoo or the Real Deal?

Divemaster strokes a tiger shark near the bait box behind him, Tiger Beach, Bahamas.

Tiger Beach in the Bahamas is firmly established as one of those global dive destinations of which almost everybody has heard. Its fame is largely derived from the many published images of its most celebrated visitor—Galeocerdo cuvier, the tiger shark.

A cleaner wrasse interacts with its reflection in a mirror. A study, which suggests that fish might possess far higher cognitive powers than previously thought, has ignited an intense debate over how we assess the intelligence of animals

Do fish really possess higher cognitive powers?

Mirror self-recognition test

The standard method for testing whether an animal is self-aware is placing a mark on its body that cannot be viewed directly and then letting it have a look in a mirror. If the animal responds to its reflection and attempts to remove the mark it is considered evidence that the animal is self-aware.

The maze that the crabs in the study had to get through.

Study reveals crabs' spatial learning skills

Many studies about spatial learning in animals have focused on land animals, and less so in marine animals, possibly due to the difficulty in following them around.

This new study, led by Swansea University marine biologist Ed Pope and master’s student Ross Davies, gives a glimpse into the European shore crab’s level of spatial learning ability.

First, the team constructed a special maze that measured 75cm by 50cm. A single crushed mussel was placed at the end of it.

Male orca breaching

Sounds of orca send whales fleeing

Regarded as one of the ocean's most formidable predators, killer whales are pack hunters, with some orcas hunting other marine mammals while others prefer to eat only fish. In a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, Matthew Bowers from Duke University and colleagues speculated whether aquatic mammals that are potential killer whale prey could distinguish calls of the predatory killers from those of other marine mammals.

Some rockpool prawns prefer to stick with the food they found while others tend to forage for more choices.

Shy prawns fare better than bolder ones

Scientists at the University of Exeter studying rockpool prawns (Palaemon elegant) have discovered that they exhibit different personalities, and those that are "shy" tend to fare better when competing for food.

The findings of their study was published in Volume 140 of the journal Animal Behaviour.

In the study, the prawns, all taken from the Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth, were tagged and tested on their level of boldness by placing them in an unfamiliar tank and observing how much they explored and ventured to the centre.

The Underrated Nurse Shark

Plentiful nurse sharks attended the sessions I held during my shark study in Tahiti. They are heavily-built animals with large, graceful fins, a long, pennant tail, and small eyes. They forage on the sea floor for a variety of foods at night and sleep in grottos in the coral during the days. Though these unusual sharks typically lie around on the sea floor, they are also capable of clambering.