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A Southern Resident killer whale leaps into the air. The Southern Residents are an endangered population of fish-eating killer whales. Credit: NOAA

Southern Resident Orcas Receive Oregon Endangered Species Protections

February 16, 2024 - Contact: Regina Asmutis-Silvia, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, (508) 451-3853, [email protected] Brady...
Pilgrim and her calf in December 2022 © Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken under NOAA permit #20556-01

Critically endangered whale dies due to inaction of Biden administration

Pilgrim and her calf in December 2022 © Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, taken...
© Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, taken under NOAA permit 24359. Funded by NOAA Fisheries and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Critically endangered North Atlantic right whale found dead off Georgia’s coast

February 13, 2024 - On February 13, a North Atlantic right whale was reported dead...
#5120 not entangled in July 2021 
© Gine Lonati, University of New Brunswick. Taken under DFO Canada Sara Permit

Entanglement rope of North Atlantic right whale identified

On February 14th, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it had identified the fishing...

Scientists find answers to whale mysteries in err…earwax!

We still know relatively little about whales and dolphins, which is one good reason why we should be protecting them, but finding out more about their secret lives sometimes comes from the strangest source.

Old samples of earwax from whales held for decades at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History are now revealing huge amounts of interesting data about the watery world in which these creatures lived hundreds of years ago.

The samples, which have been gathering dust, are now being compared with those taken from dead whales that wash up on the shore to reveal a fascinating story about the state of the oceans back then compared with the present day. 

The old wax deposits, or earplugs, not only captured a history of the contaminants the whales had encountered throughout their lives, but also provide scientists with a log of hormonal changes and chemicals related to stress that could explain major life events like puberty, pregnancy and birth. The data could then help to determine age, gestation periods and birth-rates. 

Amazingly, in terms of accuracy, the wax earplugs provide the data to within six months and allow researchers compare and measure not only one whale’s exposure to pollutants throughout the creature’s lifetime, but also other whales in other oceans and other decades for comparative study. In turn, this gives us an insight into the oceans they swam in too.