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Whale

— Marine

Automatic whale detectors keep track of migration

By - February 16, 2015 4 Pictures
Something as large as a whale might seem an easy thing to keep tabs on, but for for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tracking migrating pods of gray whales is a major undertaking. In hopes of making binoculars and clipboards a thing of the past, the agency has installed a new generation of whale detectors to keep an electronic eye on the passing leviathans. Read More
— Science

Swiss researchers develop new method to produce ambergris alternative

By - February 27, 2013 1 Picture
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
— Robotics

Autonomous marine robots used to detect and identify endangered whales

By - January 9, 2013 3 Pictures
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
— Science

New system automatically classifies undersea noises in real time

By - December 19, 2010 2 Pictures
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
— Environment

Whale-inspired bumps improve efficiency of ocean turbine blades

By - November 29, 2010 3 Pictures
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
— Marine

Japanese whalers smash the Ady Gil stealth trimaran in half on their first meeting

By - January 5, 2010 1 Picture
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
— Science

Whales no longer singing the blues?

By - December 15, 2009 3 Pictures
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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