Progress on Baleen Whales Acoustic Communication

Humpbacks' *hierarchical structure of communication* demonstrated in paper in the March 2006 issue of the venerable Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. This is an article on the article.

January 2006 BioScience issue has an article by David Mellinger (Oregon State University) et al. on apparent *dialects* within the same species, and not just for one species. The article seems to include work on Blue and Right whales communication. This is an article on the article. We'll have to read the original version in BioScience.


Right Whales - The Most Endangered

(photo: NOAA)
Right Whales are being helped by the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity:

A 34-second wavelet video of a Right Whale emission, credit Mark Fischer, Aguasonic.com: http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=3762058162618410967


Progress on vocal communication of the apes

From the Dec. 20 issue of the journal PLoS ONE:

The Syntax and Meaning of Wild Gibbon Songs

Esther Clarke1, Ulrich H. Reichard2,3, Klaus Zuberbühler1*

1 School of Psychology, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland,

2 Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany,

3 Department of Anthropology, Southern-Illinois University, Carbondale, United States of America

Nice work.
Calls were digitised using Cool Edit 2000 software. Spectrograms were made using Raven 1.2.1 with a Hanning window function, 8.71 Hz filter bandwidth, 0.5 Hz frequency resolution and 15 s grid time resolution.
Btw, these acoustic analysis tools are not for live work (near real-time). For live acoustic 2-way interactions where you can also emit sounds, you can use the free Leafy Seadragon software.

The food of the larger toothed whales

Tsunemi Kubodera, chief of Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the National Science Museum of Japan, showing off a Giant Squid near Ogasawara Islands, Japan, on December 4, 2006. The squid is about 3.5 metres (11.5 feet) long and about 50 kg (110 lbs). It was caught at a depth of 650 metres (2132.5 feet) in that area. (National Science Museum of Japan/Handout/Reuters)

These are eaten by the larger odontocetes such as the cachalots as well as by even larger squids, the Colossal Squid.
Update 2007.03.03: Here's a recent news article on a captured Colossal, Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni:

Update 2007.03.25:

Diving behavior of sperm whales in relation to behavior of a major prey species, the jumbo squid, in the Gulf of California, Mexico

R. W. Davis1,*, N. Jaquet2, D. Gendron3, U. Markaida4, G. Bazzino5, W. Gilly6

1Texas A&M University, 5007 Avenue U, Galveston, Texas 77551, USA
2Center for Coastal Studies, 115 Bradford Street, Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657, USA
3Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas, Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CICIMAR-IPN), A. P. 592, La Paz, Baja California Sur 23000, Mexico
4Departamento de Aprovechamiento y Manejo de Recursos Acuáticos, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Calle 10 No. 246, Col. Centro, 24000 Campeche, Mexico
5Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR), Mar Bermejo No. 195, Col. Playa Palo de Santa Rita, A. P. 592, La Paz, Baja California Sur 23000, Mexico
6Hopkins Marine Station, Oceanview Boulevard, Stanford University, Pacific Grove, California 93950, USA

ABSTRACT: Sperm whales occur worldwide and feed largely on meso- and bathypelagic squid, but little is known about the behavioral ecology of this predator and its prey. In the Gulf of California, sperm whales are thought to feed on the abundant jumbo (Humboldt) squid, an ecologically and commercially important species. In this study, we attached satellite-linked dive recorders to 5 sperm whales and pop-up archival transmitting tags to 3 jumbo squid in the same area and time period in order to record their diving behavior and movements. Most (91%) deep dives by whales ranged from 100 to 500 m (average 418 ± 216.0 m) and lasted 15 to 35 min (average 27 ± 9.1 min). During daytime hours, jumbo squid spent about 75% of the time in the 200 to 400 m depth range, and sperm whales showed a similar dive-depth preference. The vertical distribution pattern of squid changed during the night, with squid spending about half the time at depths of <200>

KEY WORDS: Physeter macrocephalus · Dosidicus gigas · Diving behavior · Satellite telemeters · Movements · Predator · Prey · Gulf of California


Are Belugas Collateral Damage?

http://www.ceaa.gc.ca/050/documents/18338/18338E.pdf - large 249-page document.

The government report on the Cacouna liquid natural gas (LNG) harbor and terminal project and its effects on Belugas of the St. Lawrence River, Quebec, Canada.

According to some ecologists, the report portrays the Belugas as acceptable collateral damage.

I'll have to read the report. It mentions the word "Beluga" 23 times. It's 249 pages.

Important for Whales and Dolphins, among others

From http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/ :

The president of the American Association for the Advancement
of Science, Gilbert S. Omenn, touched on this point recently
in a wide-ranging address published in Science Magazine:

"Science works best in a culture that welcomes challenges to
prevailing ideas and nurtures the potential of all of its
people. Scientific ways of thinking and of re-evaluating one's
views in light of new evidence help strengthen a democracy."



Chapter 16 - Sociality and ecology of the odontocetes

Sexual Segregation in Vertebrates: Ecology of the Two Sexes
Edited by Kathreen Ruckstuhl and Peter Neuhaus
Cambridge University Press, January 2006 | 500 pages | 247 x 174 mm

Overview: An understanding of sexual segregation is important in the explanation of life history and social preference, population dynamics and the conservation of rare species. This book explores the reasons why this behaviour has evolved and what factors contribute to it. Chapters provide a synthesis on many different vertebrate groups. This is the first synthesis, to our knowledge, on sexual segregation. Highlights important implications for conservation.

Chapter 16 - Sociality and ecology of the odontocetes, Robert Michaud, Scientific director, Groupe de recherche et d'éducation sur les mammiferes marins, Tadoussac, Québec, CANADA


Earthtrust dolphin research projects, 2001


The 2001 system by Dr Ken Marten includes a whistle recognizer system: http://www.cyrus.org/lilly/touchscreen00.html


Dr Marten's system uses software by Antoine Schmitt:

Was this system ever used with dolphins? I don't recall reading anything about it's use, so it probably hasn't been used and it may not be completed or it may be unsatisfactory (inadequate design or implementation).

Dolphin Assisted Therapy - DAT

http://www.linknet.com.au/dolphin/DAT2.html - contains a list of such organizations

home page of the CSI: http://linknet.com.au/dolphin/

William Rossiter
"Activist, Researcher, Photographer. President, Cetacean Society International" (CSI)

advisory board members, past and present

2007 is the Year of the Dolphins

"The UN Convention on Migratory Species, together with its specialized agreements on dolphin conservation ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society WDCS have declared 2007 the Year of the Dolphin."


The species guide pages will be very useful when completed:

The TUI Group is a major supporter of this initiative and appears to be hosting their web site. TUI appears to be a large German-based conglomerate:

TUI was called
Preussag until 2002; sstarted as a tourism company and still has a substantial portion of its capital invested in tourism. TUI is diversifying its capital investments yet TUI's tourism activities are still significant, as described on their web site: "... around 79 tour operators throughout Europe handling 18 million customers a year. In addition, the Group has 3500 travel agencies, 37 incoming agencies, seven airlines with more than 100 aircraft (sic), and more than 290 hotels with a total capacity of around 163,000 beds."

TUI states that the environment is the capital of tourism. They appear to have decided to spend on environmental protection and they support
conservation organisations such as Sociedad Española de Cetáceos (Tenerife) cetaceos.com which is involved in whale watching with M.E.E.R. e.V. (La Gomera and Tenerife) which is based in Berlin: www.m-e-e-r.de:

TUI recently acquired CP Ships which was originally part of CP Rail, a historical Canadian company.

From the m-e-e-r.de web site, I arrived at this very interesting links page: http://www.oceania.org.au/wwwlinks/dedicated.html


Tyack's Google

Echolocation Clicks

The abstract is online: http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/abstract/209/24/5038

Foraging Blainville's beaked whales (Mesoplodon densirostris) produce distinct click types matched to different phases of echolocation

M. Johnson1,*, P. T. Madsen1,2, W. M. X. Zimmer3, N. Aguilar de Soto4 and P. L. Tyack1

1 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
2 Department of Zoophysiology, University of Aarhus, Denmark
3 NATO Undersea Research Centre, V. le San Bartolomeo 400, 19126 La Spezia, Italy
4 Department of Animal Biology, La Laguna University, La Laguna 38206, Tenerife, Spain

* Author for correspondence: majohnson@whoi.edu

Accepted 16 October 2006

Against the Killing of Whales, Against Whaling

Blue Voice

update 2007.01.26: BBC news item - The UK is trying to make a move against whaling at the International Whaling Commission (IWC). The web page has good links of interest on whales and anti-whaling. And I agree with this statement:

There is no humane way to kill a whale at sea - David Attenborough

update 2007.02.04: I do not dare put this ugly photo on my blog, but this is why I blog



The Yangtze dolphin may be extinct

Aka. the Baiji, these fresh water dolphins only live in the Yangtze river, China's longest, and a 26-day, 1700-km (1,060-mile) hunt by experts failed to find any of the mammals.


Update: http://baiji.org/ - new web site to help in case there's still a chance.

The search found about 300 of another threatened species, the Yangtze finless porpoise, but this was less than expected.

Update: Opinion of the Christian Science Monitor, December 21, 2006, http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1221/p08s02-comv.html