Whales

Male Humpback Whales encounter
Male Humpback Whale encounter (Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano/granted by source)

Surprising Sexual Encounter Seen in Humpback Whales

Lyle Krannichfeld and Brandi Romano observed two whales circling near their boat before joining in sexual activity about five metres below their vessel, off the Molokini crater near Maui. They were able to photograph them, providing an unprecedented glimpse into the intimate lives of these marine giants. Dr. Stephanie H. Stack, marine mammal researcher in Hawaii, published the observations in a study.

New research reveals how some whales can sing while holding their breath underwater
New research reveals how some whales can sing while holding their breath underwater.

How Whales Can Sing Underwater

This discovery sheds light on the unique physiological adaptations that allow these marine giants to perform such vocal feats.

The research's primary focus involved examining humpback whales' laryngeal anatomy. Researchers found that specific adaptations in the whale's larynx enable it to produce song even without the continuous passage of air, contrary to what is typically required for sound production in most mammals, including humans.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale

Alarming Population Decline in Humpback Whales as a Result of Global Warming

The decline marks a significant departure from decades of slow population growth following the end of commercial whaling.

The study, conducted by a team of marine biologists led by Ted Cheeseman, found that the decline in humpback whale numbers coincided with the onset of a massive ocean heat wave, colloquially known as 'the blob', which began in 2013 and lasted until 2016. The blob led to widespread die-offs of man

Blue whale hybrids

Researchers analyzed the genomes of North Atlantic blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus musculus) and found surprisingly high levels of fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) DNA, suggesting extensive interbreeding.

Blue whales, the largest animals on Earth, faced severe population decline due to historic whaling, leading to their current endangered status. The North Atlantic subspecies is particularly at risk. The study aimed to assess inbreeding within this population, crucial for their recovery.

Recent studies have raised alarming concerns about the levels of toxic chemicals found in UK whales and dolphins.
Recent studies have raised alarming concerns about the levels of toxic chemicals found in UK whales and dolphins.

Toxic chemicals in UK whales and dolphins: A growing concern

Originally developed for use in pesticides, paints and fire-resistant materials, POPs are highly toxic and do not easily break down in nature. These chemicals have leached into the soil, air and waterways, eventually reaching the ocean. They are absorbed by plankton at the bottom of the food chain and increase in concentration through a process known as biomagnification. As a result, marine mammals, which are at the top of the food chain, accumulate high levels of these toxins.

A depiction shows Tutcetus rayanensis, belonging to the extinct group of early whales called basilosauridae, in its appearance around 41 million years ago within the Tethys Ocean.

Fossil triggers monumental change in our comprehension of whales' evolutionary history

With an estimated weight of 412.3 pounds (187 kilograms) and a length of 8.2 feet (2.5 meters), this newly documented species is roughly the size of a modern-day bottlenose dolphin.

Named Tutcetus rayanensis, this creature belonged to the extinct basilosauridae family, which was one of the earliest groups to become fully aquatic. As revealed in a study published in Communications Biology on Thursday, this diminutive specimen is considerably older than other basilosaurids from the Eocene Epoch.

Lithographic print of men in whaleboat lancing a sperm whale.

Iceland suspends controversial whale hunt

“I have taken the decision to suspend whaling” until 31 August, food minister Svandis Svavarsdottir said in a statement, after a recent government-commissioned report concluded the hunt does not comply with Iceland’s Animal Welfare Act.

The report which provided a video showing a whale being hunted for five hours concluded the killing of whales during the hunt took too long.

Animal rights groups and environmentalists hailed the decision, with the Humane Society International calling it “a major milestone in compassionate whale conservation”.