• They have a lot more to teach us.

    We've learned a lot with your help. But there's still so much we need to know to protect our wild dolphin neighbors.

    Give to dolphin research at the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Sea Turtel sick and injured from fishing line

    You can stop this.

    Protecting marine wildlife is within your reach.

    When you give to put monofilament recycling bins within reach of conscientious boaters and anglers.

  • Harbor seal in need

    Save lives, reduce suffering, learn more.

    It's a win, win, win – when you support our Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Please give generously to the Cape Lookout Studies Program.

  • Cetacean Studies

    Inspire curiosity.

    What does it take to get students interested in science and conservation? Your help.

    Please give generously to support Cetacean Studies and the Bonehenge rearticulation project.

EVENT: We <3 Echo! Your chance to see a real whale heart.

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Uncategorized

Whales have big hearts.

No, really big hearts. Like, massive. And the actual heart that once belonged to Echo, the sperm whale skeleton hanging in the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC is being displayed at the museum for the very first time.

Is it squishy and gross?

No! It’s plastinated. They take the actual heart and replace the water and lipid tissues with curable polymers. Basically, the heart has been turned to plastic. As far as we know, it’s the first sperm whale heart to undergo the process.

“This is a one-of-a-kind specimen,” said Keith Rittmaster, the museum’s Natural Science Curator. “Dozens of talented and enthusiastic collaborators from various schools and laboratories conspired to preserve and study this sperm whale heart with the goal of returning it for display with Echo, at the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Beaufort.”

When and where can I see this cardiac curiosity?

North Carolina Maritime Museum, Beaufort, NC

Thursday, Feb. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. (That’s one huge Valentine. Bring your sweetheart, point at the whale heart and tell your date, “this is how much I love you!”)

Saturday, Feb. 16 from 7 to 9 p.m.. Saturday’s event will offer heart science lectures, a comparative heart anatomy seminar, heart-healthy munchies and additional displays.

Go Deeper:

Click here for more information on this event!

Click here to learn more about Echo, the 33′ sperm whale skeleton on display in the museum.

Click here to read about Echo’s stranding from January 2004.

Toothy visitor!

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Conservation

Looks like we have a large non-cetacean visitor to the area! A carcharodon carcharius (or Great White Shark) with a tracking device sent a ping alerting her location to scientists today. She was inside the Ocracoke Inlet. The shark, named Mary Lee, has also been cruising the Crystal Coast lately, including appearances just off of Cape Lookout. OCEARCH researchers are tracking her at their Shark-Tracking website.

Howdy, Neighbor! “Mary Lee,” now swimming off the NC coast.

Mary Lee was tagged off of Cape Cod on 9/17/12 and has travelled as far south as Jacksonville, Florida. Be sure and visit OCEARCH.org to track her progress and discover more about Mary Lee and the important work being done by researchers and scientists working with the OCEARCH team.

Good luck, Mary Lee, and happy hunting (for fish).

Orcas trapped!

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

Spyhop to freedom!

Trapped orcas, spyhopping in the only breathing hole. From GMA, ABC news.

Check this out! Orcas in frozen Hudson Bay, trapped under the ice, catch a lucky break and make it out towards sea.

They were forced to spyhop out of a small “truck sized” breathing hole to look for another breathing spot. When the weather shifted, a passage opened up.

Click here to read the full article.

Young male bottlenose dolphin strands at Emerald Isle

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Marine Mammal Stranding Network

On October 19, 2012, a fresh dead bottlenose dolphin was reported floating near Bogue Sound at Emerald Isle.  NC Maritime Museum volunteers David and Bobbi Brown assisted Dr. Victoria Thayer from the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and NC Maritime Museum Natural Science Curator Keith Rittmaster in retrieving the carcass which was frozen for later analysis.  The carcass (#KAR030) was used as a valuable dolphin research and training tool for volunteers and students.  A careful exam and subsequent necropsy revealed fresh monofilament line scars from a gill net on all appendages of the otherwise healthy juvenile male bottlenose dolphin. The marine mammal stranding network reminds you to please make use of the fishing line recycle bins located along the coast.retrieving KAR030KAR030 rt pec linesgroup necr KAR030 capt

Whale adopts orphan

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

There’s an interesting story out of South Africa where a previously orphaned southern right whale calf has been filmed nursing from the mother of another southern right whale calf. The two calves appear to get along and all are healthy right now. It will be interesting to see if the behavior continues and if the health of any of the whales begins to decline. Hopefully, they’ll all make it through the coming migration well.

Click here to read the entire article by Pete Thomas of GrindTv.com.

southern right whale mother, calf, and orphan

 

Dolphin, porpoise, and mahi-mahi (dolphinfish)

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Cetacean Studies

The interchangeable use of the terms “dolphin”, “porpoise”, and “mahimahi” contributes to the confusion regarding the occurrence and taxonomy of three distinct species.  Dolphins and porpoises are marine mammals – warm-blooded, have lungs (air-breathing), and bear live young.  The mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) is a fish – cold blooded, has gills (extracts oxygen from water), and spawns eggs.

When fishing enthusiasts refer to “dolphin”, they often mean the dolphin fish, AKA “mahi-mahi” or “dorado”.  Mahi-mahi are fun to see and catch, delicious to eat, and if you see “dolphin” on a menu (at least in the US), that’s what you’ll be ordering.  When those fishers want to refer to the mammal dolphin, they often use the term “porpoise”.

The only species of porpoise we could possibly see in North Carolina waters is the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), generally dead, or dying, during the winter.  Their normal range is concentrated north of us.  Historically, what was/is referred to the “porpoise fishery” on North Carolina beaches, actually targeted bottlenose dolphins, not porpoises or fish.

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is the only species of dolphin you are likely to see healthy in North Carolina’s coastal and estuarine waters.  Dolphins grow much larger than porpoises, have a large, falcate dorsal fin, and have a prominent beak (rostrum).  Other species of dolphins occur further offshore, but that’s for a future post.

The graphic below will help clarify differences in the 3 species.

Dolphins stabbed/shot in the Gulf

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

One or more people in the gulf are killing dolphins. They’ve been found shot, stabbed and mutilated. To read the full story, click here.

To our readers who live or work in the Gulf of Mexico: If you see anyone interacting with marine mammals please report it!

“Tips can be made anonymously by calling DMR’s Marine Patrol dispatch at 523-4134 day or night, the IMMS dolphin line at 1-888-767-3657 or NOAA at 1-800-853-1964.”

Some people out there do some truly ignorant things.

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.

 

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