New Ship Routes In Cape Cod Area to Protect Right Whales

Zoom-in on the area around Cape Cod using the viewer:

http://ocs-spatial.ncd.noaa.gov/encdirect/viewer.htm - works in IE but not in Firefox.

WASHINGTON, DC, November 27, 2006 (ENS)

The routes can be found on updated electronic versions of the Massachusetts Bay nautical charts that can be downloaded at http://www.noaa.gov/charts.html.

Good job, NOAA.

Kasatka, a Captive Orca, Gets Angry at Trainer During Multimedia Extravaganza

Photo credits: AP - Associated Press



Kasatka is at SeaWorld San Diego.

If it wasn't something personal between the two of them, the trainer and Kasatka, which is quite possible based on my experience, then it may be that:

1. the orca was tired and/or sick, or

2. the orca did not like the show, either the loudness or the quality of the music/acoustics, e.g., it may have contained acoustic elements that are offending to orcas or to this orca.

And I'm not joking.

A more recent news article.

Here is an unverified list of altercations between captive cetaceans and trainers.

Update 2007.03.03:
California's workplace safety office recommends the killing of whales so save attacked trainers.


35 Types of Sound by Humpbacks Identified by Rebecca Dunlop et al.

Researcher Rebecca Dunlop and her associates are from the University of Queensland in Australia. They monitored Humpback whales migrating along the east coast of Australia from breeding grounds inside the Great Barrier Reef to feeding grounds in the Antarctic.

The article.

TODO read the actual research paper and determine what their classification criteria were, i.e., what is meant by a *type of sound*.

Update 2007.03.03: Here's another news article from 2006 on Ms. Dunlop's team impressive research. This web page has a link to online Humpback sounds.

Update 2007.03.03: "Humpback songs are not like human language, but elements of language are seen in their songs," said Ryuji Suzuki, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) predoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Here's a 2006 news article on his group's research. TODO read the original paper.

Update Jan. 2008: http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/20080109/CPSCIENCES/80109081/1020/CPSCIENCES


Humpback whales have spindle neurons


Researchers: Patrick Hof, Estel Van der Gucht, Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York.

These neurons are in areas comparable to locations where they are also found in humans and great apes.

Larger dolphins also have spindle neurons.

The roles of these neurons are not yet understood and still speculative.

How come the Japanese and Icelandic whale-hunting *researchers* haven't published this after dissecting hundreds of thousands of whales? It's because their so-called research is a farce.

Here's another news article on the subject.


Dolphin Mirror Experiment by Reiss and Marino, 2000

The article in PNAS.

Three accompanying videos here. Must see.

Dr Lori Marino with a dolphin brain (Tt) (credit The New York Times/Bill Jelenko/WCS):

Dr Diana Reiss with Presley at the NY Acquarium (credit Bill Jelenko/WCS/NY Times):


Whale-Watching economic benefits

The Saguenay—St. Lawrence Marine Park welcomed over one million visitors in 2005.

Tourism in the region generated 93 million $ in economic fallout in 2005.


Campaign to end dolphins slaughter in Japan


Marine Acoustics Tutorials

Online underwater cetacean sounds recordings

  1. NOAA's Blue Whale and other Cetaceans sounds includes spectrograms, USA.

  2. Cachalots from Cetacean Research, USA

  3. Nice page of recordings by Cetacean Research, including 52 seconds of the US Navy mid range sonar, Humpbacks, and Orcas, USA

  4. Orca from Dr Val Veirs et al., USA

  5. Humpbacks near Hawaii, USA, by Peter Tyack, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

  6. www.whalesong.net Humpback song

  7. http://neptune.atlantis-intl.com/dolphins/sounds.html - 9 mp3 files

  8. http://www.whaleresearch.com/thecenter/orcaAudio.html - 4 files

  9. From Russia - slow connection or slow server

  10. TODO more here


Lone Cetaceans Visiting People

There are and has been a few single cetaceans that seem to appreciate close proximity to people.

Poco was one of them, near Boston, circa 2004. Photo credit: Ken Ekstrom, 2004


Marine Mammal Science (MMS) online library

Cetacea Marine Mammal Science, A major online library of research papers on marine mammals.

Users of the Papyrus Bibliography System (for Mac and DOS/Windows, and now free) can download the abstracts and contact information from http://www.cetacea.de/mms.

The Hierarchy Mechanism in Human Cognition

We as a species seem to have a very deep and strong cognitive mechanism that seems to be based on a hierarchy principle, i.e., a principle that determines which species or groups within our environment are superior to which one, and of course usually with the view that our own species or group is the most superior one. Let's call this apparent behavior/cognition mechanism the Hierarchy Mechanism.

This seems to be a major part of our cognitive and behavior process. It seems to affect much of our thinking and actions. This mechanism seems to be innocuous most of the time but it becomes quite apparent when it appears to be challenged, i.e., in the context of ideas and behavior that contradict its underlying hypothesis. The underlying hypothesis apparently at play here is the one that asserts that our species is the superior one.

The vast majority of human individuals of all cultures and all degrees of education behave in ways to suggest that they are driven by this underlying hypothesis.

A few human individuals are aware of it and have reversed it. These people are generally able to think and act without being limited by this apparently evolutionary primitive cognitive mechanism of hierarchy or superiority.

For scientists studying evolved life forms such as sharks and whales, as opposed to worms or molecules, the lack of control or lack of reversal of the Hierarchy Mechanism in one's cognition will eventually limit the quality of the work by these scientists because it will limit the type of ideas that are deemed to have value. This is probably why so few scientists are studying animal cognition and communication today, despite a large body of work showing a great potential for scientific discoveries in these fields.

For example, how come it takes a Dr Diana Reiss to do the mirror experiment with elephants when she is the one who conducted a similar experiment with dolphins many years ago. How come no one else or very few have done similar experiments?

How come no other scientist than Dr J. C. Lilly has published results to advance Dr Batteau's work on dolphin communication since the 1960's? I could also mention that I estimate that Dr Lilly has been rejected and cast out by most of the scientific community, despite having produced some ground breaking scientific results.

Where are the recent ground breaking works on primate cognition that could advance those that we saw in the 1970s?

I propose the hypothesis that scientific work in the areas of animal cognition is being hampered by the presence of the Hierarchy Mechanism is our own species and by the lack of reversal of this mechanism in individual scientists and in people manning the science funding structures today.

I propose the related hypothesis that the Hierarchy Mechanism is one of the main sources of ideologies that negate science (e.g., anti-evolution) and ideologies that are causing large groups of people in engaging in wars and also causing many individuals in manipulating these large groups that actually want to wage war, including killing and getting killed. This hypothesis effectively proposes that the Hierarchy Mechanism is one of the main causes of human social problems today.


Whales Sounds as Visual Art by Mark Fischer

Mark Fischer turns DSP of whales sounds into art - literally

and the NY Times likes it.

More images here. Must see.

Nice DSP Analysis of Orca Vocalization at MIT


File DTWtalk.ppt is my fav. It's a 10 MB file with sounds. The analysis is very close to the technique used by Seadragon, and Seadragon does it in real-time.

DSP = Digital Signal Processing

Cuvier's beaked whale recorded at 1 899 m (6,230 ft)

Research by the Woods Hole Institute. These deep dives and/or shallower dives may be why they are hurt by military sonar.

Some elephants are self-aware, like dolphins and apes


Three videos. Must See.

Dr. Reiss did similar experiments with mirrors and dolphins, a few years ago. Dr. Reiss is a world leader in animal intelligence and communication research. Dr. Reiss is on the scientific board of Dr. Denise Herzing et al. Wild Dolphin Project, a collaborator of the free Seadragon software project for dolphin communication research.


Here's a similar experiment with mirrors and apes. Frans B. M. de Waal was a main researcher in both the elephants and apes mirror experiments. While Dr Reiss was a main researcher in both the elephants and dolphins mirror experiments. Dr Reiss' dolphins mirror experiment with Dr Lori Marino was probably the first of its kind to be recognized by mainstream science.

Science 3 November 2006:
Vol. 314. no. 5800, p. 735
DOI: 10.1126/science.314.5800.735d

Very few creatures have the cerebral wherewithal to recognize themselves in a mirror: humans, apes, dolphins, and now--elephants.

Joshua Plotnik, a psychology graduate student at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues put a jumbo-sized mirror in the elephant enclosure at New York City's Bronx Zoo and watched the reactions of three adult female Asian elephants. All showed signs of self-recognition: One, for example, used the tip of her trunk to explore her mouth in the mirror. Another passed the gold standard "mark test" for self-recognition, using her trunk to examine a white X painted on her forehead, the researchers reported online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Such self-awareness, says Plotnik, may be part of a more general ability to distinguish one's self from other individuals, which in turn may be needed for the altruistic behavior observed among elephants in the wild. The study "shows us that so many more species may be capable of these complex abilities if we figure out the right ways of asking the questions," says parrot-studier Irene Pepperberg, who teaches comparative psychology at Harvard University.

56 year old Orcas in the wild

The Orcinus Orca Collective on the North American West Coast has recently posted a photo of a 56-year old male Orca on their blog.


http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/observationfaune0.html - St. Lawrence River, one of the few places where you can usually see some blue whales (summer-automn). There are also the local belugas all year round, the frequent and inquisitive minkes, the seis, humpbacks, porpoises, etc.

2006 map of whale-watching off Vancouver, Canada by Jeff Lorton, a member of the Orcinus Orca Collective.

5starwhales.blogspot.com - Jeff Lorton's blog whale-watching Orcas near British Columbia, Canada

www.outforadventure.com/orca_adventure.htm - Orcas, British Columbia, Canada

www.stubbs-island.com - Telegraph Cove, BC, Canada

www.tundrabuggy.com - Belugas in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada - I've been there, seen these whales, great adventure, highly recommended but maybe a little too adventurous for some.

Another belugas watching operator in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The images are worth a visit. Belugas like the first time that I saw them. You can also snorkel with belugas from the Lazy Bear Lodge.

Qoddy Link Marine, St. Andrews by-the-Sea, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Eastern Canada. They also have a boat service for research.

WDCS recommandations for whale-watching, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).

WDCS brochure of whale-watching operations around the world.

This WDCS whale-watching operation in Scotland offers research activities, includes acoustic analysis. I hope that they will use the Seadragon software soon.

December 2006, Caribbean whale watching organisations, with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), start CARIBwhale. Andrew Armour, of Dominica, is the newly elected President: "In addition to promoting responsible whale watching we will also support non-invasive scientific research, as well as educational programmes, community involvement, and advocacy." http://tinyurl. com/y4psr3

www.helsinki.fi/~lauhakan/whale - list of links, some links may be defunk.


www.m-e-e-r.org - La Gomera, Eastern Atlantic Ocean.



www.dolphinsakaroa.co.nz - swim with wild dolphins around New Zealand

list of boat cruises in New Zealand

TODO more here


Research that support Seadragon software

These research results do support the basis for the free Seadragon software. They show that Seadragon is based on hypotheses that may provide some advance in research.

  1. Whistle Matching in Wild Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Vincent M. Janik, Science 25 August 2000: 1355, DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5483.1355. Abstract:
    Dolphin communication is suspected to be complex, on the basis of their call repertoires, cognitive abilities, and ability to modify signals through vocal learning. Because of the difficulties involved in observing and recording individual cetaceans, very little is known about how they use their calls. This report shows that wild, unrestrained bottlenose dolphins use their learned whistles in matching interactions, in which an individual responds to a whistle of a conspecific by emitting the same whistle type. Vocal matching occurred over distances of up to 580 meters and is indicative of animals addressing each other individually.
    School of Biology, University of St. Andrews, Bute Building, Fife KY16 9TS, UK, and Lighthouse Field Station, Aberdeen University, Cromarty, Ross-shire IV11 8YJ, UK. Present address: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Biology Department, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.

  2. This research from 2005 shows that dolphins are capable of recognizing rhythms and pitch and are able to reproduce them on demand.

  3. 2006 paper on vocal learning by Orcas in the wild, off the West Coast of North America. Paper published online (as a pdf), by Andrew D. Foote, Rachael M. Griffin, David Howitt, Lisa Larsson, Patrick J. O. Miller, and A. Rus Hoelzel.

  4. Dynamic time warping for automatic classification of killer whale vocalizations. The PDF file and the PowerPoint file (10 MB). Judy Brown, Professor of Physics, Wellesley College, and Visiting Scientist, Music, Mind, and Machine Group at MIT Media Lab. http://web.media.mit.edu/~brown/ The PowerPoint file DTWtalk.ppt is my fav. It comes with sounds.

  5. Dr Lusseau: Dolphins use non-vocal signals - the pdf file in this page.

  6. New podcasting site for dolphin science by Dr Kathleen Dudzinski director of the Dolphin Communication Project, Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, USA. The podcasts involve big names in dolphin science.

  7. Lou Herman et al, Hawaii: trained dolphins to learn an artificial grammar of commands using visual signals. One-way, visual, communication. They are missing the interactive aspects and the audio which would allow the dolphins to make demands and make modifications to the signals. Seadragon was designed to support audio interactions and therefore more dolphins involvement.

  8. James W. Fitzgerald used morse code-like signals to communicate with dolphins:

  9. Dr. J. C. Lilly's work from the 1950's to 1970's.

  10. Dr. Batteau's work in the 1960's. Dwight W. Batteau and Peter R. Markey: Man/Dolphin Communication, Final Report: 15 December 1966-13 December 1967. Prepared for U.S. Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake, California, Contract No. N00123-67-C-1103. Arlington, Massachusetts: Listening, Incorporated, 1967. Appendix A, Technical Manual MSA-2. Appendix B, Technical Manual MDT-5

  11. TODO more here


Sakhalin II offshore oil and gas and Grey Whales

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) convenes a new independent scientific advisory panel to monitor the impact of the Sakhalin II offshore oil and gas development on critically endangered Western Gray Whale population

21st Conference of the European Cetacean Society, 2007

The 21st Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society will take place in Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain, from April 23rd – 25th, 2007, and will be hosted by AZTI-Tecnalia.

Global Vision Int'l studying dolphins off Kenya

Global Vision International (GVI) is setting up a base to conduct research on dolphins off the coast of Kenya.

TODO: read up on GVI.


Manatees in the news

A Nov. 2006 news article on Manatees research at Mote Lab. This article is disappointing. At least there is a relevant photo.


Dr Rose's important views on captivity in this Nov. 2006 article.

WDCS's review of scientific arguments for captivity.

4 young Belugas at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise aquarium in Yokohama, suburban Tokyo. (AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

http://members.aol.com/orcainfo/ - Jerye Mooney's web site has a good collection of data.

Human whistle languages

Human whistled languages demonstrate that we, Homo sapiens, have proved that whistles can be used for sophisticated communication.

Wikipedia has a nice page on human whistled languages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistled_language - much texts and many links.

lemondesiffle: web site on research and preservation of whistled languages; much to read.


Cetacean strandings in general seem to have many causes. For some strandings, the cause or causes may be assumed to be known to us, but in many cases the causes are still baffling.

Here are some recent cases:

New Zealand November 2006 - Part 2

New Zealand November 2006 - Part 1

December 2006: A Bryde's whale on a Malaysian beach, it tried twice in two days, appeared to have wanted to die on that beach and appeared to have been in poor health shortly before dying:

first post on the whales and dolphins blog

This blog is to make it easier to post on issues not directly related to the Seadragon software which now is the main subject of leafyseadragon.blogspot.com.

This blog is needed because if I were to post non-Seadragon related posts on the leafyseadragon blog then this would make it probably too confusing for Seadragon users. This illustrates some of the ergonomic and technical issues of blogs.