Humpback whales are rescuing seals and other animals from orcas. Are the humpbacks being altruistic? Or do they just really hate orcas? National Geographic tries to explain.
"The spotted hyena has a genital set-up that is unique among animals. [...] They have a pseudopenis; an extended clitoris through which they urinate, have sex, and give birth. In order to have sex a male has to place his penis in the pseudopenis, which is extremely difficult without her complete cooperation. Once the two have mated, the female has the option of simply peeing, and flushing out much of the male's sperm."
Whale.fm is a project (which you can contribute to!) to help "marine researchers understand what whales are saying." - really it's a project looking at the effects that manmade sound has on marine life, but what whales are communicating with their songs is still a really interesting question, so I've listed some relevant links in extended description. [more inside]
The world's oldest recorded orca was spotted swimming with her pod off the Seattle coast this weekend. J2, nicknamed Granny, is believed to have been born in 1911, making her 103. [more inside]
Though humans often liken themselves to top predators such as lions, a new study (paywalled) used FAO data to calculate the human trophic level (HTL), i.e. the position of Homo sapiens in the food chain, and found that humans are actually on a par with anchovies and pigs with an average trophic level of 2.21 (vs 1 for plants to 5.5 for bears and orcas). Values vary by country, from 2.04 in the 97% plant-eating Burundi to 2.57 in the 50% fish-loving Iceland. As meat consumption is growing in countries like India and China, mankind is globally becoming more carnivorous and has been improving its trophic level by 3% since 1961. [more inside]
On April 18, a half-dozen orcas battled a pod of sperm whales off the southern coast of Sri Lanka. The unusual encounter is one of fewer than a dozen such recorded conflicts — and the first observed. “We saw the water churning on the horizon,” said Heinrichs, a photographer and filmmaker who was in the area looking for blue whales. He and his colleagues steered their boat toward the patch of white water. As they got closer, they saw an enormous dorsal fin slicing through the water — a killer whale trademark — and then noticed the group of sperm whales, clustered together in a defensive stance. At that point, Heinrichs did what many of us would not do: He jumped in.
Nervous seals, a pack of orcas, surfers, and a guy with a camera. February 23rd--Orcas in the lineup near Tofino, British Columbia.
This kite-aerial photography (KAP) gallery flies through Seattle, NW Washington, Peace Arch, and a Burning Man festival. [more inside]
"If you fail to provide your animals with the excitement they need, you may be certain they will create the excitement themselves."
The Killer in the Pool. Outside Magazine's in-depth feature on the Sea World trainer death earlier this year, and the history of the business of killer whales. A Whale of a Business is a Frontline resource page on orcas and captivity, and includes a section on Sea World, and one on the debate over capturing/releasing orcas and other whales and dolphins...which includes an excerpt on the danger to trainers--and inhumane captivity conditions--published shortly after Tilikum's first fatal incident in 1991. Previously.
Kill Willy? The headline of this CNN story is a bit of hyperbole, since it's just one guy advocating euthenasia. But it's depressing enough that Keiko, the orca from the "Free Willy" films who was later released into the wild, has recently appeared on the Norwegian coast, apparently looking for human contact after getting dissed by his killer-whale brethren. God ...