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Whale

Researchers have found a cost-effective way to produce an alternative to ambergris (Photo:...

Highly prized by perfume makers, ambergris is a natural material that fetches thousands of dollars per pound. The high price tag is due to the material's rarity, which is a result of its source – the digestive system of sperm whales, from which it is expelled to float around the ocean and has led to it being dubbed "floating gold." While its cost and the endangered status of the sperm whale has caused many perfume manufacturers to turn to synthetic alternatives, the most popular of these is laborious to produce. Now a team of researchers has developed a method to sustainably produce large quantities of an ambergris alternative.  Read More

Chief scientist Mark Baumgartner secures a glider (with its wings removed) after it was re...

Every year between November and January, endangered North Atlantic right whales are thought to use an area off the coast of Maine known as the Outer Fall as a breeding ground. They are “thought to” because the ocean conditions at that time of year can make it difficult to locate them. Two autonomous marine robots called gliders have now been used as a real time whale-detection system for researchers and to warn boats in the area to slow down to avoid striking the marine mammals.  Read More

Kai Richter (left) and Holger Mai of DLR inspect the installation of humpback whale-inspir...

Oh, those humpback whales and their weird fins. First, they inspired more efficient wind turbines. Next, their unique qualities were copied by undersea turbines used to harness tidal flow energy. Now, they’ve led to rotor blades that allow helicopters to be more maneuverable. It all comes down to bumps along their leading edge, known as tubercles.  Read More

A new algorithmic system that automatically identifies underwater sounds in real time has ...

It’s always upsetting to hear about whales beaching themselves, and one of the leading theories on the phenomenon suggests that it may sometimes be due to noise pollution in the oceans. Whales navigate and communicate via sound, so it’s entirely possible that human-introduced noises (such as those produced by ships, oil rigs, or naval navigational beacons) could confuse them, and throw them off course – it has even been posited that noises such as military sonar could deafen or kill them. In an effort to better understand the link between ocean noises and whale well-being, researchers from Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) have developed a first-ever system that identifies undersea sounds – both human and cetacean – in real time.  Read More

The modified blades

The bumpy protrusions, known as tubercles, on the leading edge of humpback whale flippers have already inspired more efficient wind turbine blades that are able to produce more power at lower speeds. Now, in a seemingly obvious move, researchers have found that that same principle can be applied to underwater turbine blades to more efficiently convert low velocity ocean tidal flow energy into electricity.  Read More

Less than 2 months into its tour of duty as an anti-whaling vessel, the Adi Gil has been s...

Enviro-warrior stealth boat the Ady Gil has reportedly been rammed by a security vessel employed to protect a Japanese whaling ship. The crew of the Ady Gil had been launching projectiles at the Nisshin Maru whaling vessel and attempting to entangle its propeller with rope, when the 1.5 million dollar craft was suddenly approached and rammed by the Shonan Maru, one of the Japanese security vessels. The attack smashed the sleek biodiesel-powered trimaran in half, and it sank, although the crew of six has been rescued uninjured.  Read More

Fred Benko - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Library

Endangered blue whales appear to be singing a happier song according to researchers studying the haunting sounds these huge mammals broadcast beneath the waves. Specifically, a drop in frequency has been noticed and a list of possible causes have been examined - from climate change to a rise in human-produced ocean noise - but it seems the explanation could actually be a positive one. It's believed the drop may be caused by the increase of blue whale numbers following bans on commercial whaling activities … in other words, the males don’t need their voices to travel as far to attract a mate.  Read More

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