What it is like to be a women-only scientific group?

We had never given it much thought, but when the world was recently celebrating International Women in Science Day, it hit us. The Cetacean Ecology Research Group at Massey University in New Zealand, where we are a research associate and a PhD student, currently consists purely of women. We are led by the great Prof Karen Stockin. Then there are three research associates, a postdoc and research officer, two PhD students, and two MSc students.…

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Whale Scientists Story: Stefano Bellomo

Stefano Bellomo is a 32-year-old Italian whale scientist currently working as a marine mammal observer and a social media manager for the Jonian Dolphin Conservation. Here is his story. Stefano’s education at the University of Bari I studied both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental biology at the University of Bari, my city. I wanted to discover and explore the science behind life on our planet, explore the world of ecology and acquire the necessary…

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Hector’s dolphins – April 2021

This April, let’s celebrate Hector’s dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori). They are the only cetaceans endemic to New Zealand, which means they are only found there. Hector’s dolphins actually include two subspecies: the endangered South Island’s Hector’s dolphins and the critically endangered Maui dolphin. Let’s find out more about Hector’s dolphins in this post. Aerial survey of Hector’s dolphins, Banks Peninsula, New Zealand – Credit: Will Rayment One of the smallest cetaceans Hector’s dolphins are among the…

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Preying on marine mammals might be threatening the survival of Icelandic orcas

Scientists have for a long time thought that orcas in Iceland specialized in eating fish (like herring). Recently, however, experts have noticed that some Icelandic orcas seem to enjoy another type of snack: marine mammals. This could be a problem and eating marine mammals could threaten the long-term survival of these orcas. In this post, I explain the results from the first paper of my PhD, looking at contaminants in Icelandic orcas. An Icelandic orca…

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Dolphin vaginas will blow your mind

While we were looking for the most frequently googled terms associated with cetaceans we encountered the terms “dolphin sex” and “whale penis”. Generally, penises have been far more in the spotlight than vaginas for a long time. For instance, the Icelandic Phallological Museum was established in 1997 in Reykjavík (including a range of cetacean specimens). The Vagina Museum, in contrast, was opened twenty years later, in 2017 in London. So it’s no surprise that even…

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This natural gas project threatens the survival of beluga whales in Quebec

Welcome to our first official bilingual article on beluga whales in Quebec! A new pipeline project connecting Alberta and Quebec recently proposed in Canada could threaten a local beluga population’s survival. Below this English version, you will find a translated text for our french-speaking readers. Bienvenue à notre tout premier article bilingue sur les bélugas du Québec! Un nouveau projet de pipeline reliant l’Alberta et le Québec récemment proposé au Canada pourrait menacer la survie…

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The Humpback Whale – March 2021

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are fascinating marine mammals; they are among the largest whale species on the planet. They are found in almost every ocean and might also be the nicest animals in the world. They also happen to have one of the longest migrations of any mammal. In this post, we’ll learn more about these magnificent whales and take a closer look at the incredible journeys they make every year between their cold-water feeding…

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Third newborn for Southern Residents: Killer whale baby boom

Fresh news in the killer whale world, Surprise! (L-86) just gave birth! Since July 2020, three different Southern Resident Killer whales have given birth! J35, Tahlequah, who lost her baby about two years ago, gave birth on September 6th, 2020, to a baby boy, J57. Next, J41, Eclipse, was the second mom, giving birth to her offspring on September 25th. And now L-86, Surprise, gave birth to her baby. This fantastic news raises spirits, considering…

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This seal has the craziest teeth in the carnivore world

Meet the crabeater seal. This little guy comes from Antarctica and has the most specialized teeth in the carnivore world. Keep reading to know more about the crabeater seal. Teeth to eat crab? You might think that crabeater seals eat crab. Indeed, their Latin name is “Lobodon carcinophaga“, and carcinophaga literally means “crab-eating”. But here is the plot twist: crabeater seals do not eat crab. They feed on krill. How? By using their super-specialized teeth.…

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The walrus – February 2021

This month, we want to talk about a very large pinniped, the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)! Learn about our tusk fighting, mollusk eating, flipper footed marine mammal of the month. We hope to highlight some facts and their climate-changing plight. Two walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) resting on ice. Foxe Basin, Nunavut, Canada – Credit Where in the world do they live? There are two subspecies of walrus. The first one occupies the north Atlantic waters, from northeastern…

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