Science

Two white whales sighted off Australia and New Zealand

White whales are very rare, but in the last couple of days there have been sightings off both New Zealand and Australia.

An adult white humpback whale, possibly the famous whale known as Migaloo, has been seen off the coast of Gisborne on New Zealand's North Island.

Meanwhile, off Lennox Head in New South Wales, a white whale calf was sighted by a passing paraglider. The mother of the calf has the usual dark colouration of a humpback whale.

Rare white orca returns

Colleagues from the Far East Russian Orca Project (FEROP) have encountered one of the rare white orcas off the Commander Islands, about 100 miles off the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. The orca, known as Mama Tanya, was last seen in 2010. 

Blue whales in New Zealand found to be genetically distinct

Blue whales have long been known to frequent the waters around New Zealand but now scientists have discovered that the whales living between the North and South islands appear to be a genetically distinct population. 

A survey in 2014 by a team from the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University identified around 50 blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight but it was unclear if these whales were just seasonal visitors or might be there on a more permanent basis.

Fossil of new extinct baleen whale discovered in New Zealand

Scientists have discovered a new species of extinct baleen whale after examining a skull and other bones that were discovered on New Zealand's South Island 30 years ago.

Toipahautea waitaki, is estimated to have been around five metres in length and lived around 27.5 million years ago, making it one of the earliest known baleen whale to have been found so far.

Bowhead whales sing jazz songs

New research has revealed that not only do bowhead whales have the most diverse song range amongst whales, but that they may be singing their own vast and unique selection of ‘jazz’.

Kate Stafford, an oceanographer at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Seattle, studied a large group of the whales, listening in to their underwater concerts. She was amazed by what she heard and recorded.

Scientists record first case of infanticide in orcas

For the first time, scientists have recorded an incident in which a male orca deliberately drowned an orca calf from another pod, assisted by his own mother. The mother of the calf tried unsuccessfully to defend her offspring. 

While this behaviour has been recorded in other animals and three species of dolphin, it had never been seen before in orcas.

Endangered dolphins disappearing from river in Bangladesh

A population of one of the world's most endangered dolphins is under serious threat in the Halda River, Bangladesh. In the four month period up to February, 17 South Asian river dolphins (also known as the Ganges River dolphin) died in the river and experts are now calling for their home to be declared a sanctuary and proper protection implemented for the dolphins.

Rare sighting of sperm whale off Vancouver Island

After an absence of more than three decades, a sperm whale has been heard and seen in Johnstone Strait, a passage of water separating northern Vancouver Island from mainland Canada. This area is renowned as being home to the famous Northern resident population of orcas and while other species are also recorded, the reappearance of a sperm whale this week took researchers by surprise.

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