Old Threats Cause New Harm to Endangered Right Whales Animals Environment Oceanography 

Old Threats Still Endangering Right Whales

By Emily Rhode @riseandsci After decades of recovery from the brink of extinction, the North Atlantic right whale is once again under serious threat from human activity. But this time the decline is not due to overhunting the animals (once prized for being the “right” whales because of their slow speed and tendency to float on the surface when killed). After a long struggle to recover, injury or death from entanglement in fishing gear and a dramatic decrease in whale births have turned this once hopeful success story into a…

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Animals Biology Oceanography 

Search for the Unicorn—Slightly Off-Center

By Mark Lasbury, MS, MSEd, PhD @ Biologuy1 Zootopia opened in movie theaters on March 4 and is on track to be another Disney classic. Among all the animals featured in this feature, you probably recall a few sporting horns. But did you happen to spot any unicorns? Mythical Unicorns The earliest writings that describe unicorns were those of the Greek writer Ctesias, in the late fifth century BCE. He described the Indian ass, an animal with a white, strong body and perhaps a red head from which sprung a…

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A stranded humpback whale carcass in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Humpback whales were among the Alaska marine mammals that showed exposure to algal toxins, according to new research. Photo credit: Kathy Burek-Huntington, Alaska Veterinary and Pathology Services. Animals Biology Environment 

Algal Toxins Found in Alaskan Marine Mammals

By Neha Jain @lifesciexplore Harmful algal blooms produce toxins that can be deadly to marine mammals. In the US, such toxins—unheard of 20 years ago—have caused almost half of all unusual marine mammal deaths in the last two decades, particularly among California sea lions. Now, for the first time scientists have discovered algal toxins farther north in Alaskan marine mammals; the mammals’ health can be jeopardized by these toxins. “What really surprised us was finding these toxins so widespread in Alaska, far north of where they have been previously documented…

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A grey whale with scars on its tail flukes, possibly the result of a collision with a marine vessel. Image credit: Ricardo Antunes. Animals Environment Oceanography 

Marine Wildlife Protection Meets Maritime Tracking

When marine mammals surface for air, they are frequently struck by seagoing vessels. In addition, with maritime transport accounting for approximately 90 percent of world trade, the noise made by all those ships may disrupt the navigation of whales and other marine mammals. Besides noise disturbance and fatal strikes, shipping impacts on marine wildlife include introduction of pathogens, fuel spills, and invasive species into the water; habitat destruction through anchoring, especially on coral reefs; and pollution of the air. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), working with researchers and practitioners from public…

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A humpback whale off the coast of Baja California in December 2015. Animals Photos 

Magnificent Humpback Whales of Los Cabos

By Max Goldberg Following the adventurous Alaska trip my father and I took last summer, for winter break my family and I traveled to Baja, specifically Baja California Sur. For those who slept during world geography, Baja is the little pointy area south of California and west of Mexico. Baja is well known for its wildlife. Seeing the whales is one of the biggest attractions here. Many whale species, including humpbacks, grey whales, blue whales, and right whales migrate to Baja and other warm waters in the winter to mate…

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Isabela surfacing to breathe in the waters of Chile's Gulf of Corcovado (Courtesy of Rodrigo Hucke-Gaete/Blue Whale Center) Animals Oceanography 

Where Do Blue Whales Go to Breed?

By Kate S. The blue whale is the largest animal on Earth, yet the breeding grounds of this elusive creature have remained a mystery…until now. Scientists studying blue whales in the waters of Chile through DNA profiling and photo-identification may have solved the mystery of where these huge animals go to breed, according to a recent study by the Chile’s Blue Whale Center/Universidad Austral de Chile, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The researchers have been tracking a female blue whale they call…

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