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Author Archive

Tursiops

Tursiops truncatus is the scientific name for the common bottlenose dolphin. Tursiops is also the user name shared by volunteers who contribute to this blog. If you have an idea for a blog post, or think we should comment on an article you’ve found, click the contact button above and drop us a line!

Meet “Trigger”

Written by Tursiops. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) acquire cuts and notches on their dorsal fins through normal day-to-day activities.  Some notches are caused by dolphins biting each other.  Others are a result of entanglement or boat strikes.  Photos of these notches allow us to identify individual dolphins, a process known as photo-ID.  Using photo-ID, we study residency patterns, migrations, associations, reproduction, and the impacts of entanglement.

Trigger (#2630) has a very identifiable dorsal fin most likely reflecting damage inflicted by a boat propeller.  Trigger is a winter-time regular in the water of Gallants Channel and Taylor’s Creek in Beaufort, NC.  He (actually we don’t know the gender) spends summers near Manteo.  In the sighting table below the photos, the blue cells represent months in which we have seen Trigger in Beaufort.  As you can see, we have only seen Trigger during the months of October-April, and have seen him every winter since 2000, except 2008.

 

First Look: World’s Rarest Whale

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

Spade-toothed beaked whaleSpade-Toothed Beaked Whale

There’s a new post over at OurAmazingPlanet.com with stranding images of the world’s rarest whale: the spade-toothed beaked whale.

The whales stranded themselves in 2010 but are so similar to Gray’s beaked whales, they’ve only been confirmed as spade-toothed beaked whales recently. The stranding occured in New Zealand.

UPDATE

Click here to read the actual article published in the journal Current Biology by Kirsten ThompsonC. Scott BakerAnton van HeldenSelina PatelCraig Millar and Rochelle Constantine.

A word about strandings

There are many reasons that whales strand themselves, not all are understood. It can be a heartbreaking moment to discover a marine mammal stranding. But we do learn a lot about whale species when this happens. If you discover a stranded marine mammal (dead or alive) contact your local marine mammal stranding network immediately.

The boys are back in town

Written by Tursiops. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID

            A strong and enduring relationship in wild bottlenose dolphin societies is that between adult males.  They pair up during adolescence in a relationship (often side-by-side) that persists for decades.  “Moe” and “Buddy” are such a pair, seen near Beaufort, NC primarily during winter months.  We first saw them this season in Back Sound by Middle Marsh on October 23, 2012.  Their sighting tables below highlight why we refer to them as “winter” dolphins in Beaufort.

The date on each of the 2 photos at the top of each table indicates when each picture was taken enabling you to see if/how the features we use to identify that dolphin change over time. The red lines associate each fin photo with the month the picture was taken. The table beneath the photos highlights when the featured dolphin was seen – a darkened cell indicates the month and year in which we have photographed that dolphin at least once in Beaufort.


Cetacean populations show regional differences.

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

Tursiops truncatus feeding technique

Florida bottlenose dolphins stir up mud “nets’ to corral fish (from BBC’s “Life”)

In the short time I’ve been volunteering for the Cape lookout Studies Program, I’ve learned a lot about how our local dolphins behave in ways that are not consistent throughout the world. While researchers are still learning the “whys” for these differences – it’s seems clear to me that cetaceans around the world have developed some interesting behavioral differences in different parts of the world. For example, some bottlenose dolphins chase fish up on shore, and others stir up mud to corral fish and then feed as their prey try to jump out of the nets.

Sri Lanka’s Unorthodox Whales

Which brings us to the blue whales in the Indian Ocean off the southern coast of Sri Lanka. They don’t follow the migration patterns observed in most blue whale populations.