This comprehensive selection of news and blog articles is on whales and whaling and is updated with new additions every week.
A selection of articles, facts and information about whales written by our team of authors here at the Earth Times based on scientific studies and research. From the biggest animal that has ever lived, the blue whale, to the lesser well known bowhead, whales are vital to our oceanic ecosystems.
Science has followed many large mammals recently, in efforts to conserve and understand their habitats and their lives. Now, new modes of migration in humpbacks open up a can of krill for yet more investigations.
We rarely enter the world of music, unless its about whale song, but here is a topical thought on the forthcoming Earth Hour (March 28th.) James King sings a thoroughly sustainable song with a matching video for you. Enjoy the sounds and the sights.
As the oceans change due to anthropomorphic and climatic change, the whales are perhaps our best way of monitoring their vast areas, even though this study only covers the Gulf of California.
Why do deep-water whales strand themselves? The answer could be just that-they dont adapt well to shallow beaches! Alternatively, read on.
Were having a whale of a time, enjoying a paper that tries to work out how the pygmy right whale became neotenic. The history of whale fossils is one of big gaps and they cause the problems in resolving ancient relationships still.
This time, we dont need to hunt them down, although researchers found it almost impossible to find bowheads. They number 24,000 approximately, hidden beneath the ice and distant shores of uninhabited areas, but will prove useful as the longest-lived mammal. Their genes provide something we couldnt evolve for ourselves- a healthy life!
Whale-watching is varied. You can watch the biggies or find your way north to where most killer whales patrol. Dolphins are probably the easiest to see, if you are lucky to live in the right area, but the orca really ticks boxes for conservation, huge intelligence and quite a glam. appearance (but not in the Aquarium, please!)
The large whales are now almost considered as close relatives. We all regard them as conserved by our actions, apart from one or two nations. Now the need is to look at the smaller mammals, the almost-extinct, and those creatures who never get a look-in when the IUCN declare others as critically-endangered. Some species such as the whale can now function even as samplers of the species beneath them in the food webs. We can get some idea of other populations progress if we study the diet of certain critical animals. The plant kingdom have already given us information about dim and distant climates and still more will appear as technologies allow us access to information we urgently need about how the Earth works.
Long suspected of murder, the grey seal is exposed as a regular killer of the smallest whale, the porpoise. They have recently started seeking the blubber from the porpoise, possibly after large numbers of drowned porpoise were made available after their dumping from fishermens bycatch.
To live in the heavily industrialised coastlines of the world must be hell. These animals that do survive have already coped with the worst that life or humans can throw at them. Even if we manage to save these Brydes whales, will they survive the fish diet we have contaminated for them?
The loss of orcas in Puget Sound and the killing of 1500 pilot whales annually in the Faroes is a sign we need more vigilance. People are polluting, overfishing and still attacking the sea and its creatures. The Faroese do not need food, otherwise they could gladly eat whales. Like too many hunters they are retaining bloodthirsty habits that have no place in society, alongside genocide and other bloodlusts.
Why do rich countries sometimes encourage their citizens to consume meats beyond the normal acceptable species. So many extinctions have been caused by restaurant menus that hunting have created.
Known for migration, their sweet songs and the tremendous breaching behaviour they exhibit near some coasts, the humpbacks are unique, like many whale species. Now it looks like their uniqueness could be threefold.
In the summer to come, the Hebrides are host to their 9 newly-discovered killer whales. Accompanying them is the Silurian, a magnificent research vessel equipped with specialist equipment to follow the 24 species of whales found off the west coast of Scotland.
One group of sloths made the quite unlikely shift to water, possibly because of a drying environment in the Miocene. This clever paper shows how they coped with a marine life, just like early whales, by adapting their bone compactness. Our pygmy sloths on the Panamanian island of Isla Escudo de Veraguas are the most recent speciation, around 9,000 years ago. These guys were several species on a sea trip!
When you want to count how many rare animals are out there, remote cameras have come into their own. Now even the spy in the sky can help, with the first study of a whale species that has been having high mortality problems with its calves.
When good figures appear in reports, we tend to forget about needless slaughter of whales in places such as Iceland and Japan. However, we can never forget the inability to change and the refusal to accept other peoples opinions.
The thought of bat and whale being related because they have similar hearing is incorrect. If we study a range of species, though, the evolutionary convergences of many kinds of sensory structures is very involving. What's next? Our chimpanzee friends will be developing their typing skills before we know it!
When your average whale hears the medium frequency noises emitted by many naval vessels, the response varies from speedy and deep diving to almost null response. There is no excuse, however, for ignoring the obviously complex creature and the damage to feeding success when populations are reduced as low as they are.
The kind of situation where a bat steals blood from cattle is termed vampirism. Here seagulls adopt a similar habit with giant whales.
New research has shown that humpback whales are able to pass on hunting techniques to each other. The research published in Science has shown that humpbacks learn different techniques to hunt from one another.
Of all the cetaceans in the sea, the pygmy right whale, Caperea marginata, which isn't a right whale at all, is likely to be the least seen.
Researchers discover 'freshwater killer whales' in France. The European catfish hunt pigeons on land.
1031 large orders of the Mammalia, excluding whales and bats, have been followed during the Coenozoic since dinosaurs disappeared and some small mammals appeared.
Marine fish often visit the surface to warm up after diving deep. Whale sharks were used to test some time/depth recorders to see how they regulate their body temperatures.
The submarine lifestyle of the humpback whale has been uncovered by the use of data-logging tags, on both ends of the dorsal fin.
Two dolphin-like Jurassic crocodiles ruled the sea like orcas do now. Whale-like reptiles have been recognised by several generations of fossil hunters as parallel to modern mammals.
The ritual conflict between pro-whale and anti-whale factions at the International Whaling Commission came to Panama this week, with plans for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary dismissed by the minority whaling club. While South Korea threatens to join Japan in conducting 'scientific whaling', the efforts to save the whale now seem to be happening well away from the IWC spats.
The grey whale was once one of the most hunted whales in the Pacific. The present population of grey whales is recovering but shows random genetic diversity.
Information about the commercial whaling carried out by Japan in Antarctica. The Institute of Cetacean Research sounds like a whale protection and research body, but this inapt name is used by Japanese whalers.
Research published in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology shows how a relative of beluga whales and narwhals used to live in warm oceans.
Whales can be harmed by shipping noise, a new study claims to prove for the first time.
Humpback whales at opposite ends of the Indian Ocean are singing different songs, a study has revealed for the first time. Normally, humpbacks in the same area of the ocean sing similar themes.
The prey of killer whales (Orcinus orca) in the Arctic is little studied, except of course by native Inuit peoples. New research has introduced us to this Inuit science, which in this case involves their competitor for prey items, the killer whale.
Dolphins, smaller whales, seals and other marine mammals are among the 87 species eaten in a staggering 114 countries throughout the world, a new study has revealed.
Three Sea Shepherd Conservation Society anti-whaling environmental activists have been injured while attempting to disable the Japanese harpoon whaling vessel Yushin Maru No 2, it has been claimed.
A proposal this week, seeking to put a price on the head of each whale. Would a whaling quota system see the whaling industry bought off, as conservationists snap up their quotas? Or would the whalers be thrown a lifeline by a legitimization of hunting whales for meat?
Get involved in a project to help categorize whale calls. The crowdsourcing Whale Project is intended to help confirm researcher's whale song categorizations while also raising interest and awareness for the work that has been undertaken to understand these wonderful creatures.
The whale itself is an incredible find, a new species, to be named after its origins as Aegyptocetus tarfa. Both Philip Gingerich of University of Michigan and Giovanni Bianucci of Universita di Pisa believe that 40 million years ago, this amazing link was hauling itself in and out of the sea at a time when these mammals were still semi-aquatic.
If you can keep out of sight, don't mind darkness and leave no trace when you're dead, you too could be a zombie worm. After a few million years, we now have a way to detect the presence of these intriguing animals on fossil whales - otherwise known as bone worms.
The highly endangered Humpback Whale 'Megaptera novaeangliae' was down to 1400 individuals 45 years ago (at the end of commercial whaling in 1966). Perhaps and hopefully there are too many to count now!
Calf whale swims to freedom after becoming beached in River Humber. A calf whale who became stranded off the English coast after becoming separated from its mother has been freed after an 8 hour rescue effort by emergency services.
Whales range across the oceans paying no heed to international boundaries, so a new deal between American and French Caribbean sancturies is good news for migrating humpback whales. Humpbacks travel more than 3,000 miles between the two safe havens, which will now better coordinate their conservation work and study the threats the majestic mammals face.
A novel way to avoid the tragedy of boats and right whales colliding is being suggested by new research into the feeding habits of the North Atlantic right whales - by tracking their prey. These endangered whales may number as few as four hundred, and inadvertent ship strikes account for worryingly high number of deaths each year.
Now that the dust has settled after the recent annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC), it is possible to assess the outcome and see who the winners and losers are. The biggest losers do appear to be the whales of the Southern Atlantic ocean.
The Japanese have officially announced that they will return to the Southern Ocean to continue whaling, and now Sea Shepherd are preparing to battle once more. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been battling hard against this barbarism by the Japanese whalers and sees this as simply one more battle to be fought.
The 'apex consumers' of the living world - the lions and tigers and bears, not to mention whales - play an often overlooked role in shaping the ecosystem they sit at the top of. A new review in Science out today, from 24 ecologists, points to the dramatic effects that the weakening of those at the top of the food chain can have - and calls for a new approach that values the conservation of the 'kings of the hill'.
With the IWC meeting in Jersey being bandied as a 'quieter affair', after recent tumult and mud-slinging, is it time to look at whether a 'whaling commission' is ever going to be up to the job of protecting the whales?
With the 63rd annual meeting of the IWC ongoing this week, the WWF has issued a call for the badly-split international organization to reform itself - and put the conservation of whales as its top priority. Threats from oil-and-gas exploration, ship strikes and noise pollution can - and should be tackled - whilst member nations remain deadlocked over whaling.
California gray whales may be able to quadruple their numbers to nearer 100,000, say paleontologists looking at how these encrusted denizens of the Pacific survived the last Ice Age. The paper, appearing online in today's edition of PloS ONE, shows that adaptable gray whales can shift their feeding to krill and herring; they could even thrive with rising sea-levels, the paper's authors suggest.
Conservationist groups have issued an appeal for tourists not to eat whale meat when they visit Iceland. Icelandic fisherman argue that hunting whales is part of the island's heritage but, according to IFAW, a Gallup poll from June 2010 showed just 5% of Icelanders claim to eat the meat regularly.
A minute species of water boatman has been shown to be able to 'turn up the volume to 11', and so out-shout all other animals in the noise-making department, according to a study being presented the Society for Experimental Biology annual conference. At 99 decibels, the mating call of Micronecta scholtzi blasts out louder than elephant or whale, when body weight is taken into consideration.
The playful antics of the gentle-but-gigantic right whales may be about to return to New Zealand, after an absence of 50 years - according to a new study published in Marine Ecology Progress Series. These formerly teeming calving grounds are being rediscovered by intrepid pioneers from near the Antarctic - and this may herald a return to the stunning yearly spectacle, last seen 100 years ago, before the whalers laid waste to these graceful giants.
Whales swimming near the Californian coast have increasingly become victims of hit-and-sail accidents, as shipping crowds into the important marine sanctuaries there. Now conservation groups have filed a petition with the US Department of Commerce, asking for a speed limit to halt the sea-lane carnage.
Whale sharks are gathering off the Yucutan Penisula to feast on tunny eggs, showing the area is a rich marine habitat that requires more protection say Smithsonian Institute scientists. The popular image of the whale shark is of a lone wanderer, scientists have found that when conditions are right they are more than happy to spend time together in very large groups.
Latest research suggests that sperm whales communicate with different accents and regional dialects. Sperm whales communicate with each other using a pattern of clicks or 'codas' and it is well known that there is a pattern of a series of five clicks, which are evenly spaced apart, that is used by sperm whales all over the world.
Whale and dolphin strandings and deaths may be on the rise due to sonar. In the past few years, whale strandings have risen, says a spokesperson for the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in a May 4 article on ABC News. The DEC isn't sure why whales are stranding more frequently, he says, but it plans to investigate the causes.
Imagine being able to see whales right next to you and watching them rise majestically out of the water to check you out. Well a little town on the coast of New Zealand offers exactly this and has made a name for itself as one of the top whale watching destinations in the world.
In a wildlife spectacle, a massive aggregation of over 300 humpback whales followed the biggest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in twenty years into bays in the Western Antarctic peninsula. The humpbacks were gorging on swarms of the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans. Almost all life in the Southern Ocean is ultimately dependent on the protein-rich crustaceans, from seabirds, seals and penguins, to the filter feeding whales.
Acoustic surveying is bringing the amazing deep-sea hunts of beaked whales to light, in research published today in PloS One, the open-access science journal. Not only does the study provide a better understanding of an enigmatic group of marine mammals - the information could help avoid the tragedy of sonar-associated whale strandings.
Humpback whale song - Whales singing in the vast expanses of the oceans introduce new song elements into their repertoire each year, creating new 'remixes'. And the most popular tunes quickly ripple across the oceans in a massive cultural interchange that has no known parallels outside of homo sapiens. So say scientists studying Pacific humpback whales.
The annual massacre of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands has begun in earnest and anti-whaling activists are determined to stop the killing. The Sea Shepherd has previously been involved in helping the pilot whales in the yearly slaughter in the Faroe Islands. They are particularly concerned now about the barbaric way that the whale hunting is carried out on these islands.
The Critically Endangered Western gray whale is under threat from the development of a new oil and gas platform off Russia's Sakhalin Island. The biggest concern is the proximity of the proposed platform to the feeding grounds of the Critically Endangered Western gray whale. The area earmarked for the project is near Piltun Bay, the primary feeding area for Western gray whale mothers and calves.
A predilection for larger, fatter Weddell seals has been noted by NOAA scientists studying killer whales, in the icy waters off the Antarctic Peninsula. The study in Marine Mammal Science shows they use astounding tactics of cooperation to ensure Weddell stays on the menu - creating waves to wash their prey off of floes, and then sharing the hapless seal once drowned.
Counting carcasses is not a good way to measure marine death tolls say scientists who have studied the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on cetacean species in the Gulf of Mexico. As many as 50 times more whales and dolphins were killed than carcasses were recovered after the 2010 disaster.
Happy Birthday WWF! This year marks a momentous anniversary for WWF - 50 years of environmental conservation. Over the past 50 years, WWF has had many notable achievements. In the 1970s, Operation Tiger was launched - the first ever global campaign to save a species across its range. In the 1980s WWF, in conjunction with Save the Whales, successfully campaigned for a moratorium on commercial whaling. Filed in environmental issues: WWF/conservation.
The Japanese government has announced that they have decided to bring this year's Antarctic Ocean whaling season to an early end. A statement by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries they said their whaling fleet will be returning home shortly as a result of the ongoing harassment that they have been receiving from the anti-whaling activists in the Antarctic Ocean, naming the vessels run by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
From a shack in the fjords of British Columbia, one young naturalist is waging war against a consortium of the world's largest oil companies. His arsenal: gum boots, binoculars, and data - lots of it. What would compel him to such extremes? Two reasons: Whales and oil. I'll explain...
Anti-whaling activists are continuing to make life difficult for the whalers in the Southern Ocean and they may now return to Japan empty handed. The Sea Shepherd group has managed to intercept the ship that is supplying the Japanese vessels hunting for whales in the South Ocean. The conservation group is planning to prevent the Japanese whaling supply ship, the Sun Laurel, from delivering fuel and other supplies to both the whalers and their factory ship.
The proposed construction of a new oil and gas platform on the coast of Sakhalin Island in Russia is putting more pressure on the survival of the critically endangered western gray whale population. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) lists the western gray whale as critically endangered. The ICUN believes that about 130 of the whales remain in the oceans, with only 30 of these being mature females capable of reproducing.
A three-year dip in Bering Sea temperature has caused a change in the distribution of the staple food of pollock. The Bering Sea is considered to be one of the world's most productive fisheries and its northern portions are the home of sea ducks, grey whales, bearded seals and walruses, but a 30-year warming trend has been bad news for those animals that are adapted to a cold-water environment, causing them to migrate further north.
A Canadian study to contrast the amount of energy a blue whale could expend during one dive, with the amount of energy it could get from the food it collected. As most people will know, the blue whale is the largest animal alive and probably the largest animal that has ever lived. When a blue whale calf is born it is as big as a fully-grown hippopotamus and during its first seven months it will drink about 400 litres of its mother's milk every day.
The Sea Shepherd has located the Japanese whaling boats in the Southern Ocean and has clashed before the whalers have managed to slaughter any whales. The goal of the anti-whaling fleet was to try to stop the Japanese boats from continuing their slaughter of whales in the Southern Ocean.
The number of whales and dolphins being beached along the UK coastline has soared dramatically over the past few years, the latest statistics show. Britons are being called upon to watch out for stranded whales and dolphins as conservationists look to explain the ongoing rise in the number being washed onto the nation's beaches..
Successful tagging and tracking of a western gray whale has meant a team of Russian and American scientists have gained important insights into a population of endangered whales. The western gray whale is one of the world's most endangered whales species. Listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List for Threatened Species, there are thought to be only 130 western gray whales living today.
The Sea Shepherd's new anti-whaling boat was unveiled this week in efforts to step up this season's campaign against the Japanese whalers. The Sea Shepherd has just launched their new vessel, known as 'Gojira', to chase after Japanese whale boat harpooners who will be out hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean.
Incredibly, whales sing at the same wavelength as the neutrinos emitted by distant stars. Worldwide, physicists and marine biologists are sharing subsea recording facilities, and now anyone with a computer can listen in to the deep sea from home.
Concerned about the increasing hostility in the Antarctic waters, the NZ Government is now considering sending their navy to accompany vessels during the upcoming whaling season. The whaling season begins shortly and the collision between the Ady Gil and the Japanese whaling vessel last season has lead the NZ Prime Minister to raise concerns that people could lose their lives.
Scientists working in the Gulf of California have found whales exhibiting the type of sun damage typically associated with sunburn in humans. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B., also found that this sun damage is worsening over time.