The Hawaiian Monk Seal – June 2021

Let’s give a big Aloha to our new “whale” of the month, the Hawaiian Monk Seal!  In this post, we will dive into their subtropical home and explore these endangered creatures. Foraging through paradise. Photos credit: Doug Perrine What in the Monk? The monk seal gets its common name from the thick fold of skin around its neck, which resembles a monk’s hood. In addition, the seal lives a solitary lifestyle! This differs significantly from…

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Whale Scientists Story – Francesca Soster

Francesca Soster is a 36-year-old Italian whale scientist, currently working as a researcher on bottlenose dolphins in Malta. Here is her story… Francesca’s story started in the textile industry I studied Textile Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Turin. I have completed a Master’s Degree in Nobel Fibres, a specialized path in fabrics and clothing to provide a sound knowledge of the entire supply chain with a specific focus on natural fibers. My story started…

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Do Whales Fart?

Sperm whale relieving itself Image © Wade & Robyn Hughes As a child, you may have come across the book “Everyone Poops.” Well, what about farts? In this article, we will explore the lovely world of whale flatulence and try to answer, “Do Whales Fart?” “Better out than in…” Passing gas or farting can be seen in most mammals, even marine ones! It allows animals to release air that has been trapped inside their stomach.…

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Successful release in Korea: captive dolphins now have babies in the wild

This is the story of the successful release of captive dolphins in Korea who later became moms in the wild. Sampal, Chunsam, and Boksoon were captive indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins at an entertainment park in Korea. They were released off of Jeju Island between 2013 and 2015. The three babies were born in April 2016, August 2016, and August 2018. Find out more about their incredible journey in this post. Eleven dolphins were illegally caught and…

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Count grey seal pups to estimate the quality of the Baltic Sea’s food web

Did you know that you could assess the health of the Baltic sea by simply counting the number of grey seal pups? We explain to you how it works in this post. A grey seal pup – Credit: Ian Ward The Baltic Sea, between salt and freshwater The Baltic Sea is a little arm of the North Atlantic Ocean tucked away in northeastern Europe. It is one of the largest brackish water bodies globally, meaning…

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Rice’s Whale – May 2021

This month, we will celebrate the newly classified species, the Rice’s whale (Balaenoptera ricei)! Once mistaken as the Bryde’s (pronounced “broodus”) whale, new evidence proves the rice whale is different, both morphologically and genetically! Ric’s whale surfacing. Photo from here. Same but Different Because of their similar features, scientists misclassified the Rice whale for the Bryde’s whale. They have similar features. Males are typically smaller than their female counterparts. They both have a similar shape…

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Don’t flip out: whales jump for more than one porpoise

Have you ever asked, “Why do whales jump?” Well, there’s not a precise answer, but we will try to answer it in this post, so keep reading. If you’ve ever played in shallow water, you might have used your feet to push off the bottom and pretend to jump out of the water like a whale or dolphin. While doing so, you may have noticed that it’s difficult to get your entire body out of…

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How did whales become the world’s deepest-diving mammals?

How long can you hold your breath underwater? If you’re not a professional free-diver or a navy seal, chances are you’ll probably reach around a minute or two. While the human record of natural underwater breath-holding lies at an impressive 11 minutes, marine mammals easily beat all the records. Cuvier’s beaked whales are the ultimate champions, with one whale diving almost 3 km and another individual staying underwater for a whopping 222 minutes! That’s 3…

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If you are a big old male Weddell seal, the ladies will love you

Ever wondered what drives male Weddell seal behavior during the mating season? Seals have many needs, such as staying warm in winter and cool in summer, avoiding hungry predators, finding food, and finding mates. These needs can also change with the age of the seal. During the mating season, male Weddell seals try to attract females. However, males must compete against other males for a chance to catch a female’s attention. Weddell seals live in…

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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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