Amazing photo of a blue whale feeding on krill (her mouth is full)

After reading a recent story about local blue whale sightings, San Diego photographer Jerry Allen shared a stunning image of a blue feeding on krill off the county’s coast at Nine Mile Bank.

He took the photo in November. “There were about 10 blue/fin whales that day. I now call it the ‘magic day,'” Allen said.

Allen said blues are very difficult to photograph. “I figure I’ll get a photo op about one time in 10 trips,” he said. “It’s also illegal to chase them, so you have to get lucky with an animal choosing to come to you.”

 

More on the story‘Magic’ image shows blue whale munching krill

 

 

 

More Photos from Jerry Allen – visit his website

Continue reading Amazing photo of a blue whale feeding on krill (her mouth is full)

First ever video of the world’s most elusive whale

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.

via Animal Planet

 

Shepherd’s beaked whale is listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN Red List given that there is so little known about the marine mammal.

Scientists have found the loneliest whale in the world

For decades now, scientists at the NOAA have been tracking a mysterious whale song that sounds like the ghostly howls of a drowned tuba player. The sounds have been identified as belonging to a single whale, who sings at a frequency unlike any other whale in the world.

Dubbed “52 Hertz” after the frequency range in which he typically sings, the animal has been called the loneliest whale in the world, since his love songs seem destined to go unanswered. Most other species of baleen whale, such as blue whales and humpbacks, sing at frequencies much lower, between the 15-25 Hertz range.

Not only does 52 Hertz sing at a much higher frequency, but his calls are also shorter and more frequent than those of other whales. It’s as if he speaks his own language– a language of one. Even stranger, 52 Hertz does not follow the known migration route of any extant baleen whale species. He sings alone and travels alone.

Could this individual be the last of a previously unknown species of baleen whale? That’s one possibility. Whale biologists have also proposed that he could be malformed, or maybe a rare hybrid– perhaps a blue whale and fin whale cross. Whatever the explanation, 52 Hertz is one of a kind.

learn more about this lonely whale, and hear his call52 Hertz: The Loneliest Whale in the World

Continue reading Scientists have found the loneliest whale in the world

Wyland skins for your phone, laptop, & tablet

I’m a big fan of Wyland and would love to get one of these for my Mac.

“Wyland skins are the ultimate way to show your love for the ocean while protecting your electronics at the same time!”

 

 

 

View them all or buy oneSkinit: Capture the wonder of the oceans

Whale Wars confronts slaughter of Pilot whales in the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands fishermen wade into a shallow bay to kill a pod of pilot whales in a hunt called a "grind." Sea Shepherd has launched a new show called "Whale Wars: Viking Shores" to focus attention on the hunt.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, capitalizing on the tremendous success of their Animal Planet TV show, “Whale Wars,” has now taken on a new battle. With the Japanese fleet’s Antarctic hunt finished for the season, the skull-and-crossbones crew have turned their attention on the Faroe Islands with a new show: Whale Wars: Viking Shores

In the Faroe Islands, the oceangoing conservation outfit is not hectoring a faceless, corporate, government-subsidized commercial whaling outfit with massive factory ships that kill whales in the name of “research.” On this grouping of 18 small islands in the North Atlantic, a Danish protectorate situated between Iceland and Scotland, the people kill pilot whales by hand, on the shore, as part of a traditional hunt called the “Grind,” (pronounced “grinned”) which residents say is thousands of years old.

The Grind is not pretty, and “Viking Shores” pulls no punches. The Faroese send boats out into the ocean to find pilot whales, which are cetaceans not as large as the fin or minke whales hunted by the Japanese, but are slightly bigger than dolphins. Then they herd the mammals toward one of several dozen beaches on the islands, where residents lie in wait. As the powerful creatures beach themselves in panic, hunters wade into them with long curved hooks and slaughter the whole pod in a bloody frenzy. The Faroese eat a lot of pilot whale.

via LA Times

The second episode of “Viking Shores” airs Friday at 9 p.m. on Animal Planet.

* * *

Read an interview with Sea Shepherd captain and environmental warrior, Paul Waston, on what it’s like to confront the Faroes people on their ancient tradition.

Download episode  1 – Bad Blood for free on iTunes (warning: link opens iTunes).

New area of marine biology – the whale fall – adventurous and full of new discoveries

A new and interesting area of scientific research is called a “whale fall”. This occurs when a whale dies and the massive body falls to the ocean floor. During the fall and for many months afterwards the whale becomes a haven for life.

This process, first observed in 1987, revealed 30 previously unknown species and has since become a popular research focus. Imagine an entire school bus gradually sinking and then resting on the ocean floor. Whole species thrive off of nutrient-rich area and some, including the newly discovered species, live solely on the school bus (whale carcass).

This burgeoning area of research recently received a lucky gift, actually several of them. The story starts on a San Diego beach:

The 67-foot fin whale was towed to Fiesta Island on Nov. 23 for scientific study. When the carcass landed on the water line, about two dozen researchers started carving it up for biological samples.

Scientists quickly determined that the whale had been killed by a ship because it had numerous fractured vertebrae and large areas of hemorrhage that indicated that it was alive when hit, according to a report put together by Kisfaludy and his partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, SeaWorld and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Then city officials, unsure what to do with this massive thing, “announced plans to haul the whale to a landfill,” and that’s when Virgin Oceanic got involved. They offered to tow it out to sea using their crew and 125-foot catamaran.

The organization, one of Richard Branson’s enterprises, promotes exploration of the seas. Its leaders wanted to see the carcass turned into an undersea laboratory.

For two nights, the whale was secured to a telephone pole by heavy rope and to an anchor in Mission Bay.

The day after the necropsy — Thanksgiving — Kisfaludy said he and Rouse “ran all over the county looking for steel that we could use.” They found 3,000 pounds of large shackles and 13 links of large ship chain that totaled about 1,000 pounds. They added that to 10,200 pounds of rusty steel mooring weights Kisfaludy secured from sources at Newport Harbor, where Virgin’s 125-foot catamaran docks.

via Whale almost didn’t sink with 14,000 pounds

 

The recreational catamaran then towed the whale 11 miles out to sea and released it. It sat there for a moment until it got crushed by a wave and then sank 800 meters to the ocean floor.

In the coming months Scripps researchers plan to visit the carcass using Remotely Operated Vehicles in search of new biological discoveries.

 

More:

Whale photos from San Diego Union-Tribune

Video of a whale fall, just landed and 18 months later

Inside a whale’s mouth and African Wild Dogs (photos)

Beautiful photos from National Geographic’s Best Environmental Photos 2011. Here are my two favorites:

Fish flee the gaping maw of a Bryde’s whale, which surprised…(the photographer, who said) he snapped the picture while also fleeing the whale.

A pack of African wild dogs attacks a warthog in northern Botswana.

They live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.

African wild dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey, such as wildebeests, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds.

African hunting dogs are endangered.

Check out all the photos, including the winner (of homeless children in a scrap yard): Best Environmental Photos of 2011.

Then if you’re really interested here are the 2010 photos.

Inside a whale's mouth and African Wild Dogs (photos)

Beautiful photos from National Geographic’s Best Environmental Photos 2011. Here are my two favorites:

Fish flee the gaping maw of a Bryde’s whale, which surprised…(the photographer, who said) he snapped the picture while also fleeing the whale.

A pack of African wild dogs attacks a warthog in northern Botswana.

They live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.

African wild dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs hunt antelopes and will also tackle much larger prey, such as wildebeests, particularly if their quarry is ill or injured. The dogs supplement their diet with rodents and birds.

African hunting dogs are endangered.

Check out all the photos, including the winner (of homeless children in a scrap yard): Best Environmental Photos of 2011.

Then if you’re really interested here are the 2010 photos.