Russian ship played classical music to rescue entrapped belugas

The Moskva was the largest and most powerful non-nuclear icebreaker at her time of delivery. She got some international attention in 1985 when she herded around 2000 ice-entrapped belugas back to the open sea … by playing classical music. Yes, you read that right! Classical music saved the entrapped beluga whales What is an icebreaker? An icebreaker is a class of ships that can break the thickest ice and easily travel where no other ships…

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Seals “see” and hunt fish with their whiskers

Have you ever looked at a seal or a sea lion and wondered about their voluptuous whiskers? Those fine hairs, called whiskers or vibrissae, have a crucial role in their lives. Studies have shown that blindfolded captive harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) can easily follow other seals underwater, using only their whiskers. Yet, that was just the tip of the iceberg; what are these fine hairs really do? Seal have long and voluptuous whiskers – photo…

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Choose the best courses to study marine mammals

If you want to study marine mammals but don’t know which courses to take, this post is for you. Multiple times I have found myself confronted with the typical student dilemma of which courses to take. Do you want to work within the marine mammal sector? Then most people will respond with “you need to study marine biology.”. However, neither my bachelor nor my master was focused on marine biology, and here I am, studying…

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Echolocation 101: How dolphins see with sound

Whales, dolphins, and porpoise occupy a wide variety of habitats. They range from the small harbor porpoise found in shallow coastal waters to massive sperm whales diving below 1000 meters to catch the perfect squid! The underwater world can be like a labyrinth, and at times can have limited visibility-, especially below 200m, in the dark and murky waters. And so, how does a hungry dolphin locate a nearby school of fish? The answer: Echolocation!…

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Whale Scientists Story: Meghan Sutton

Meghan Sutton is a 24-year-old marine mammologist who works with Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida, USA. She is one of their rescue biologists. Meghan responds to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings and assists in their rehabilitation. Here is her story… Meghan’s Education I got my Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, USA. Though landlocked, I already knew I wanted to do marine science. I rationalized that it…

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Vaquita, the most endangered cetacean in the world

Vaquita porpoises have puzzled scientists since their discovery in 1958. Regrettably, their populations have gotten much smaller over time due to illegal fishing practices. In this post, we highlight that while these “little cows” may be difficult to protect, we should try everything we can to save them.  Image credit: Puerto Vallarta Daily News The Mysterious Nature of the Vaquita Vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the most endangered marine mammal on Earth. Vaquita means “little cow”…

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Basilosaurus, the “King of Lizards” – October 2020

Basilosaurus skeleton at the Museum of nation History in Washington DC/CC Gini Let’s travel back in time this month to visit our scary “scaley” friend, or so scientists thought! Get ready to meet our prehistoric predatory whale, Basilosoaurus, “The King of Lizards”, or Zeuglodon. Following the bone trail… Basilosaurus skull from Alabama 1834 in Louisiana, American naturalist, and paleontologist, Richard Harlan (September 19, 1796 – September 30, 1843) received a single vertebra. He thought it…

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Basilosaurus, the “King of Lizards” – October 2020

Basilosaurus skeleton at the Museum of nation History in Washington DC/CC Gini Let’s travel back in time this month to visit our scary “scaley” friend, or so scientists thought! Get ready to meet our prehistoric predatory whale, Basilosoaurus, “The King of Lizards”, or Zeuglodon. Following the bone trail… Basilosaurus skull from Alabama 1834 in Louisiana, American naturalist, and paleontologist, Richard Harlan (September 19, 1796 – September 30, 1843) received a single vertebra. He thought it…

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Whale Science in the time of COVID: how to make it work?

This year, professional development opportunities are extremely limited, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Global travel restrictions and lockdowns make conferences and internships almost impossible. But there are other ways how you can advance your professional profile! How can you keep developing your skills and/or doing whale science during the COVID pandemic? Here are six things every early career scientist can do to make sure 2020 is not a complete career write-off. Whale science is…

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Seals molt every year to keep their fur healthy

When we think about molting, the most familiar example we can think of is the snake “shedding its skin” and replacing it with a new one. However, did you know that also mammals shed something? Mammals shed their fur. Pinnipeds, such as seals, otariids, and walruses, belong to this category of fur shedding mammals. Once a year, they shed their old fur which is replaced by a shiny, brand new coat. For my honors project,…

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