Marine Mammals


Diving into the Right Whale Gene Pool

Like forensic detectives, a multi-institutional team of scientists has followed a thread of DNA from the highly endangered right whale population across the oceans and back through generations.

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Even Sperm Whales Get the Bends

Even Sperm Whales Get the Bends

It seemed only natural for deep-diving sperm whales to be immune from decompression illness, or the bends?the painful, sometimes fatal condition that human divers suffer when they surface too rapidly. But the whales may be as susceptible as land mammals, according to a new study by WHOI biologists.

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Playing Tag with Whales

Playing Tag with Whales

The challenge of designing a device to learn what marine mammals do on dives is the stuff of dreams for an electronics engineer.

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Run Deep, But Not Silent

Run Deep, But Not Silent

For the first time in history, we can accompany a whale on its dive, hear what it hears, and observe its normal, natural, previously hidden behavior in the depths. Working closely together, scientists and engineers have created an innovative new device—the digital acoustic recording tag, or D-tag. It attaches to a living whale and records nearly everything that happens on its dives, without disturbing the animal.

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Mistaken Identity

Mistaken Identity

Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have found that two chemicals accumulating in the tissues of marine animals and suspected to be manmade pollutants actually came from natural sources.

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Scientists Muster to Help Right Whales

Scientists Muster to Help Right Whales

It is a sad irony that we have cataloged individual photographs of the remaining North Atlantic right whales and given each of them unique numbers and sometimes names, yet still know too little about their physiology, behavior, and habitats to take effective steps toward ensuring their survival as a species.

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Whither the North Atlantic Right Whale?

Whither the North Atlantic Right Whale?

“Today only a remnant of the population survives, no more than 350 whales clustered in calving and feeding grounds along the eastern seaboard of North America. Only occasional right whale sightings in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or in the waters between Iceland, Greenland, and Norway give echoes of their once substantially greater range.

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Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Study Shows Sharp Decline in Mothers

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) report in today’s issue of the journal Nature that the population growth rate of North Atlantic Right whales has declined below replacement level because of increased mortality rates of mothers. The population numbers only about 300 and is predicted to become extinct within 200 years if the environmental conditions experienced by the whales in 1995 were maintained.

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