It was a dirty job, but Bjarni Mikkelsen, a marine biologist at the National Museum of the Faroe Islands, had to do it.
After two whales died this week near the Faroe Islands, the government wanted to use one of the skeletons in the National Museum. So Mikkelsen began the first step of cutting the animal’s gut open. But little did he expect that it would explode in his face.
“The animal was more than two days old when we took it so we knew there would be some pressure on the inside, but nothing like what happened,” he told the DailyMail…
Every small child knows the panic of losing sight of its mother in the supermarket, and as these delightful pictures show, small whales obviously feel the same way.
Taken by a British diver who was following the sperm whale calf, they show the minute the baby - who had lost track of its mum - found her again in the sea off the Azores.
Soaring 30ft across the waves, the euphoric newborn slammed its body onto the water with joy after becoming separated from its family group in the chilly waters.
But the adorable whale calf was doing more than just jumping for joy.
British biologist and dive guide Justin Hart, 44, who took the pictures, says that young whales communicate with older ones in the ocean by creating a slamming sound which travels through the water to the ears of the adults deep below.
By leaping out of the water and slamming its 12ft long body onto the surface of the sea up to 30 times, the baby whale is telling its relatives where it is so they can regroup.
The sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)) is the largest toothed animal on Earth. Hunted extensively by humans throughout history, the species has been protected by a worldwide moratorium on whaling since 1985…
(read more: Wikipedia) (photo by Gabriel Barathieu)
Research Finds How Diving Mammals Evolved Underwater Endurance
by PhysOrg staff
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shed new light on how diving mammals, such as the sperm whale, have evolved to survive for long periods underwater without breathing.
The team identified a distinctive molecular signature of the oxygen-binding protein myoglobin in the sperm whale and other diving mammals, which allowed them to trace the evolution of the muscle oxygen stores in more than 100 mammalian species, including their fossil ancestors.
Myoglobin, which gives meat its red colour, is present in high concentrations in elite mammalian divers, so high that the muscle is almost black in colour. Until now, however, very little was known about how this molecule is adapted in champion divers…
“Various processes are known to enhance the ocean’s ability to store carbon. Sperm whales increase the levels of primary production and carbon export to the deep ocean by depositing iron rich faeces into surface waters of the Southern Ocean.
The iron rich faeces causes phytoplankton to grow and take up more carbon from the atmosphere. When the phytoplankton dies, it sinks to the deep ocean and takes the atmospheric carbon with it. By reducing the abundance of sperm whales in the Southern Ocean, whaling has resulted in an extra 2 million tonnes of carbon remaining in the atmosphere each year. “
The Amazing World of Whales Revealed in Giants of the Deep
By Brandon Keim
Few animals capture our imaginations the way whales do. As fellow mammals, there’s something immediately recognizable about them — and yet, specialized as they are for deep ocean life, they’re magically foreign, too, like visitors from another world.
From now until January 2014, people can touch that world at the American Museum of Natural History’s Whales: Giants of the Deep exhibition. It features a 58-foot-long sperm whale skeleton, a life-sized blue whale heart, and a bounty of fossils and illustrations describing the extraordinary evolutionary journey of whales, which started with 45 million years ago with terrestrial history’s largest meat-eating mammal and led to the largest animals in history, period.
For people who can’t visit in person, exhibition curator John Flynn took Wired on a tour…
Sperm whales are fierce squid hunters, but they also have a softer side. In a serendipitous sighting in the North Atlantic, researchers have discovered a group of the cetaceans that seem to have taken in an adult bottlenose dolphin with a spinal malformation, at least temporarily. It may be that both species simply liked the social contact. Creatures form “friendly” connections with members of other species throughout the animal kingdom. These often short-lived relationships can offer increased protection from predators and more effective foraging.
behavioral ecologists Alexander Wilson and Jens Krause of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin did not expect to find a mixed-species group when they set out to observe sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) some 15 to 20 kilometers off the island of Pico in the Azores in 2011. But when they got there, they found not only a group that included several whale calves, but also an adult male bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus). Over the next 8 days, they observed the dolphin six more times while it nuzzled and rubbed members of the group...
The sperm whale, is the largest toothed predator on Earth. Males can be over 18m long, weighing up to 50,000kg.Mature female sperm whales tend to live in social groups of up to 15 mature females and their offspring, whereas mature males live alone or in smaller groups.The sperm whale is listed as vunerable to extinction by the IUCN. Commercial whaling was the biggest threat to this species.
Sperm whales have conical teeth on the lower half of their long, narrow jaw which fit perfectly into sockets on the upper half, where there are no teeth. This arrangement allows them to easily eat squid and other prey.
Sperm whales have one of the the lowest reproductive rates of mammals (2nd only to some populations of Orangutan)—they’re able to give birth to a single calf every four to six years at their reproductive peak—and the largest brain of any living creature on the planet. These highly social animals often raise their young communally.
Photography by Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures, fromAmong Giants
This is the skin of a sperm whale, speckled with sucker marks from a giant predator. Sperm whales with these marks provided early evidence that there was a giant squid that lived in the deep - known then as the kraken.
“This photo was taken during a lucky encounter with a member of the ‘group of 7’ pod. A very young calf measuring about 25 ft long came over and played with us for well over 45 minutes. The whale would swim right up to us, causing us to back away, then dive below us, spinning around while trying to rub against us. I suspect that part of its behavior was due to the exfoliation she was experiencing and possibly the presence of remora; she seemed to want us to rub her to help get the loose skin and remora off of her.”