rth grab a snack, their hearts skip a beat — or sometimes 30.
That's what a team of marine biologists found after recording a blue whale's heartbeat for the first time ever. After suction-cupping a pulse monitor to the back of a blue whale off the California coast, the researchers watched as the gargantuan creature dove and resurfaced nonstop for nearly 9 hours, alternately filling its lungs with air and its belly with schools of tasty fish hundreds of feet below the surface.
death's door late last year is still alive, although her health remains in a precarious state, according to researchers who spotted her swimming off the western Canadian coast last week.
This past December and January, researchers tracking the J pod — one of three pods of orca whales (Orcinus orca) that swim along the westerns coasts of the United States and Canada — noticed that a 42-year-old orca matriarch, known as J17, was not looking well.
usculus) is the largest animal known to have existed in history. These enormous marine mammals have been known to reach up to 110 feet (34 meters) long, and the largest individuals likely weigh at least 150 tons (136 metric tons), according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. That's a little more than twice the length of a school bus and more than three times the weight of a semitrailer truck.
aeangliae) aren't just talented singers, they learn and steal each other's songs. And, according to a new study, they can pull off those musical thefts even when there are whole continents separating them from their targets.
An international team of researchers analyzed recordings of male humpbacks singing in the waters around Madagascar and Gabon, populations separated by the entire landmass of Africa. They broke down those songs into units (individual sounds, like a moan or a burble), phrases (arrangements of units) and themes (complete songs, composed of standard phrases). They found that between 2001 and 2005, the whales in the two populations appeared to lift ideas and whole songs out of one another's' songbooks, and repeat them in their home waters.
tury, they were hunted to a mere fraction of their preindustrial populations, and they now face constant threats from pollution, climate change and ongoing human meddling in the planet's waterways. It's a lot for a cetacean to worry about, and now, according to recent research, whales can add "cat poop" to their list of concerns.
In the new study, published online Sept. 27 in the journal Diseases of Aquatic Organisms, a team of marine researchers from Canada tested the brain and heart tissues of 34 beluga whales. The animals died in Quebec, Canada's St. Lawrence Estuary between 2009 and 2012. The researchers were looking for parasites — in particular, Toxoplasma gondii. This single-celled parasite is commonly found in cats and is notoriously good at spreading to other animals, usually through feces. The team found that 15 of the whales (about 44 percent of the samples) tested positive for T. gondii.