• They have a lot more to teach us.

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  • Sea Turtel sick and injured from fishing line

    You can stop this.

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    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.

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.

“Rainbow” returns with a new calf

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID

“Rainbow”, #789 in our dolphin photo-identification catalog, is one of our best known bottlenose dolphins.

First photographed in October, 1989, we’ve see her 62 times since then, most years during the months of October-April. On September 27, 2012 between Radio Island and Pivers Island we spotted her for the first time this season with a new calf. In the photo below, notice the calf has 2 small notches near the base of its dorsal fin’s trailing edge. It is rare that such a young calf acquires notches, and this may provide us with a unique opportunity to track a calf after it leaves a known mom. Just beyond Rainbow’s dorsal fin you can see the open blowhole of a nearby dolphin.

Rainbow & calf, 27Sept2012b

Bottlenose dolphin Rainbow and calf. Photo by Keith Rittmaster, NC Maritime Museum


A young bottlenose dolphin dead with multiple entanglements

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Marine Mammal Stranding Network, monofilament recycling

            On October 7th, 2011, Kat Fourhman of the NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island responded to a stranding of a dead bottlenose dolphin on the shore of Roanoke Sound near Manteo, NC.  Paul Doshkov of Cape Hatteras National Seashore assisted with the investigation.  It was a 175cm (5’ 9”) male.  At that size he would have been around 2 years old, still nursing, growing fast.  Monofilament line from 2 different types of gill nets surrounded the rostrum and left pectoral fin. 

Amazing whale photos

Written by Tursiops. Posted in Cetacean Studies

Weather.com has an amazing slide show of whale photography from National Geographic photographer Chuck Nicklin’s new book: Among Giants: A Life With Whales (University of Chicago Press, June 2011). Definitely worth checking out these amazing images.

Click here for amazing whale pictures!

Small fish feed on a humpback’s loose skin near Maui in 2004. Photography by Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures, from Among Giants

A dolphin named Butterfly

Written by animaljosh. Posted in bottlenose dolphin photo ID, Marine Mammal Stranding Network

The Story of a  Big Dolphin Named Butterfly

Nan Bowles, 05 September 2012

Butterfly was first photographed by Keith Rittmaster, Natural Science Curator at the North Carolina Maritime Museum, on the 31st of December 1993.  He was seen in our Beaufort, NC waters along the ocean shore of Shackleford Banks. For the next 19 years we almost always saw Butterfly in the presence of his friend Onion.

Field Guides & Turtle Watch

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