Sea Otters – August 2021

This month we crack into the life of sea otters as our “Whale of the Month.” Though they have a charming disposition, looks are deceiving for these feisty creatures! Sea Otter and her pup in Monterey Bay, California; photo credits Suzi Eszterhas/Minden Pictures Sea Otter vs River Otters Before we get started, what is the difference between sea otters and river otters? Well, let’s start with size: sea otters are MUCH larger than river otters.…

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Sea Otters – August 2021

This month we crack into the life of sea otters as our “Whale of the Month.” Though they have a charming disposition, looks are deceiving for these feisty creatures! Sea Otter and her pup in Monterey Bay, California; photo credits Suzi Eszterhas/Minden Pictures Sea Otter vs River Otters Before we get started, what is the difference between sea otters and river otters? Well, let’s start with size: sea otters are MUCH larger than river otters.…

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Baby, it’s Cold Outside! Thermoregulation in marine mammals

Polar oceanic water can get as cold as about –2°C! Even temperate or tropical waters might drop as low as –1°C if deep enough. This makes you think, how do marine mammals survive arctic temperatures? In this post, we’ll take the artic plunge into thermoregulation in marine mammals. What we will learn in this post – Credit: Anaïs Remili Let’s Talk Ratios: Size matters! One way that animals can reduce heat loss is by having…

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Photo-ID is the heart of whale research

Photo-ID has been around for decades: it allowed researchers to study the marine mammal populations and opened the door to awesome whale research worldwide. So what exactly is photo-ID, why is it important, and how can you gain skills in this discipline? Find out in this post. A picture says more than a thousand words Whales and dolphins’ broad distributions, underwater lifestyles, and migration patterns make them challenging subjects to study. Populations are constantly changing;…

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Whale sanctuaries where orcas and belugas can retire from captivity

Sanctuaries exist for many animal species. Generally speaking, an animal sanctuary is a place where animals are being “retired” after living in zoos or circuses. It is a place where they can live protected for the rest of their lives. For some species, this concept is nothing new. For cetaceans, however, this is fairly new territory. In this post, we explore whale sanctuaries, why they are important, and discuss two sanctuaries in particular. From Keiko…

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Whales of Mystery: We know so little about beaked whales

Twenty-two species of beaked whales live ocean-wide. They inhabit waters from the tropics to the poles. For such a cosmopolitan family, little is known about beaked whales. So, what exactly are beaked whales, and why are they so hard to study? The most mysterious cetaceans Beaked whales belong to the Ziphiidae family. So-named for their narrow rostrums, which are similar to dolphin beaks. Also, like dolphins, beaked whales are odontocetes (toothed whales). However, they don’t…

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The Yangtze finless porpoise – July 2021

Happy July! This month, we decided to celebrate the Yangtze finless porpoise. You might have heard of the Baiji, also called the Yangtze river dolphin. Sadly, the species was officially declared to be extinct in 2006. Yet, another freshwater species resides in the Yangtze River, and if you thought the Irrawaddy dolphin was the cutest, you are in for a treat: we might have found the cutest dolphin in the world! So let’s find out…

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Exciting New Whale Heritage Site

North America has its first Whale Heritage site: Dana Point, California! The seasonal migrations of Humpback Whales along the Pacific coast have always fascinated me. It is hard to fathom exactly how many whales travel along the coast of California on their journey from Alaska to Latin America and back. That is one reason why, in January of this year, Dana Point became the first designated Whale Heritage site in the United States. But what…

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What do we know about intelligence in whales and dolphins?

Everybody knows that whales and dolphins have large brains and are quite smart. Indeed, they can catch prey, migrate thousands of kilometers and even interact with other species. In this post, we cover cetacean intelligence, from self-awareness to transmitting culture, and try to answer this question: could these animals be as smart, if not smarter, than us? Anthropomorphism represents the belief that animals can experience the same thoughts and emotions as human beings. In this…

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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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