Dick Watching: Moby Dick

Posted by Juliet Linderman

Welcome, Dick Watchers, welcome to everyone’s favorite link list regarding the mysteries and revelry of the deep: the Friday Edition. Shall we set sail? Yes? Fantastic!

Uh oh: a new study reveals that naval sonar is even more dangerous for our flippered friends than we thought. In fact, sonar is actually driving beaked whales to beach themselves. Bummer? I think so. According to this article Peter Tyack, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), has used two methods to investigate behavioral responses of beaked whales to sonar; one to monitor whales’ reactions to mid-frequency sonar, the other to simulate sonar to whales tagged with a special device to monitor their responses and behavior. The results are un-good: “All three times that tagged beaked whales were exposed experimentally to playback of sounds when they were foraging at depth, they stopped foraging prematurely and made unusually long and slow ascents to the surface, moving away from the sound.”

We all know the name of our favorite sperm whale, but a new study shows that these big buddies actually have special names for each other (we can’t understand them). Sperm whales use a series of clicks—sonar—to hunt for food and to communicate, but scientists believe they also use it to identify each other. Adorable? I think so.

I don’t know about you, but it’s difficult for me to fathom the horrific level of devastation in Japan right now. One of the many casualties is a whale-processing plant in the port of Miyagi Prefecture, which was all but washed away by the powerful tsunami that hit it in the wake of the earthquake.

Nobody knows where humpback whales go to do it, but we think it’s somewhere in Hawaii. Awww! And hubba hubba.