Scientists on a research voyage in Bass Straight (south of Australia) got an exhilarating surprise when they chanced upon what might be the world’s most mysterious and elusive whale: the Shepherd’s beaked whale. It is believed this is the first time the species has ever been captured on video (shown below).
Since the Shepherd’s beaked whale was first described in 1937, there have been only 3 confirmed sightings of the animal besides this one. Due to its extreme rarity, almost nothing is known about the species. What little is known has mostly been derived from strandings or carcasses that have washed ashore. But just over 40 such strandings have ever been recorded.
Adults of the species can reach lengths of about 20-23 feet and typically weigh about 2.32 to 3.48 tons. They have a dark brown color on their dorsal side but are cream-colored ventrally, and males display a pair of tusks at the tip of the lower jaw.
One of the reasons the whales are so difficult to spot is that they are typically found only in deep, offshore habitats where sighting conditions are rarely ideal (i.e., along the latitudes commonly referred to as the “Roaring 40’s” and “Furious 50’s”). Like other beaked whales within the family Ziphidae, Shepherd’s beaked whales can also dive for long periods– over an hour at a time– and to extreme depths. In fact, most beaked whales dive to such great depths that they must surface slowly to avoid decompression sickness.
All sightings and strandings of the Shepherd’s beaked whales have occurred in waters off New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania.
Changes are brewing in the equatorial Pacific, and they could profoundly affect weather across the U.S. and much of the globe next winter and spring.
La Nina, which has held sway since last fall, will be officially declared a goner Thursday, an official at the Climate Prediction Center in Maryland told InsideClimate News. And while nobody is quite certain what will happen next, some long-range forecast models are pointing to the possible emergence of the opposite phenomenon: El Nino.
Climate scientists are still trying to determine what role climate change plays in the La Nina/El Nino cycle. One study by scientists with NASA and the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle suggests global warming may already be affecting the intensity and impacts of El Nino.
Regardless of climate change’s role, a shift away from this year’s La Nina could dramatically alter temperature, precipitation and extreme-weather patterns.
Yesterday, I wrote about the need for women writers and artists in comic books, highlighting a very successful Kickstarter project, Womanthology. The project was so successful that they have an offshoot. A documentary about female super heroes that premiered at South by Southwest 2012:
Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s, to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.
The film introduces audiences to a cast of fictional and real life superheroines fighting for positive role models for girls, both on screen and off, and reminds us of our common human need for stories that tell us we can all be heroes.
I read a lot of comics and it is always upsetting that there are no women creating them. There are female characters everywhere in the stories, many super heroines, and yet, nearly all the top female characters have all-male teams working on them.
It is pretty sad, and unfair.
The good news is that a few projects rumbling around are experiencing awesome success. The following Kickstarter project, one of the most successful on the site, covers this exact topic:
Womanthology is a large scale anthology comic showcasing the works of women in comics. It is created entirely by over 140 women of all experience levels, including top industry professionals.
The purpose of the book is to show support for female creators in comics and media. There will be multiple short stories, “how to” & interviews with professionals, and features showcasing iconic female comic creators that have passed, such as Nell Brinkley and Tarpe Mills. A Kids & Teens section will also be included, showcasing their work, and offering tips & tricks to help them prepare themselves for their future careers in comics.
Overall, this is pretty much a huge book showcasing what women in comics have accomplished, and what we are capable of 🙂 We are also hoping that by doing this book, it will encourage a new generation of women to pick up the pencil and create!