Topic: Cetaceans

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52-hertz whale


The 52-hertz whale is an individual whale of unidentified species which calls at the very unusual frequency of 52 Hz. This pitch is a much higher frequency than that of the other whale species with migration patterns most closely resembling this whale's – the blue whale (10–39 Hz) or fin whale (20 Hz). It has been detected regularly in many locations since the late 1980s and appears to be the only individual emitting a whale call at this frequency. It has been described as the "world's loneliest whale".

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Whale fall

Cetaceans Mammals Oceans

A whale fall occurs when the carcass of a whale has fallen onto the ocean floor at a depth greater than 1,000 m (3,300 ft), in the bathyal or abyssal zones. On the sea floor, these carcasses can create complex localized ecosystems that supply sustenance to deep-sea organisms for decades. This is unlike in shallower waters, where a whale carcass will be consumed by scavengers over a relatively short period of time. Whale falls were first observed in the late 1970s with the development of deep-sea robotic exploration. Since then, several natural and experimental whale falls have been monitored through the use of observations from submersibles and remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) in order to understand patterns of ecological succession on the deep seafloor.

Deep sea whale falls are thought to be hotspots of adaptive radiation for specialized fauna. Organisms that have been observed at deep-sea whale fall sites include giant isopods, squat lobsters, bristleworms, prawns, shrimp, lobsters, hagfish, Osedax, crabs, sea cucumbers, and sleeper sharks. In the past three years whale fall sites have come under scrutiny, and new species have been discovered, including potential whale fall specialists. It has been postulated that whale falls generate biodiversity by providing evolutionary stepping stones for multiple lineages to move and adapt to new environmentally-challenging habitats. Researchers estimate that 690,000 carcasses/skeletons of the nine largest whale species are in one of the four stages of succession at any one time. This estimate implies an average spacing of 12 km (7.5 mi) and as little as 5 km (3.1 mi) along migration routes. They hypothesize that this distance is short enough to allow larvae to disperse/migrate from one to another.

Whale falls are able to occur in the deep open ocean due to cold temperatures and high hydrostatic pressures. In the coastal ocean, a higher incidence of predators as well as warmer waters hasten the decomposition of whale carcasses. Carcasses may also float due to decompositional gases, keeping the carcass at the surface. The bodies of most great whales (baleen and sperm whales) are slightly denser than the surrounding seawater, and only become positively buoyant when the lungs are filled with air. When the lungs deflate, the whale carcasses can reach the seafloor quickly and relatively intact due to a lack of significant whale fall scavengers in the water column. Once in the deep-sea, cold temperatures slow decomposition rates, and high hydrostatic pressures increase gas solubility, allowing whale falls to remain intact and sink to even greater depths.

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Pelorus Jack

Cetaceans New Zealand

Pelorus Jack (fl. 1888 – April 1912) was a Risso's dolphin that was famous for meeting and escorting ships through a stretch of water in Cook Strait, New Zealand, between 1888 and 1912. Pelorus Jack was usually spotted in Admiralty Bay between Cape Francis and Collinet Point, near French Pass, a notoriously dangerous channel used by ships travelling between Wellington and Nelson.

Pelorus Jack was shot at from a passing ship, and was later protected by a 1904 New Zealand law.

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Cetaceans Energy

Spermaceti is a waxy substance found in the head cavities of the sperm whale (and, in smaller quantities, in the oils of other whales). Spermaceti is created in the spermaceti organ inside the whale's head. This organ may contain as much as 1,900 litres (500 US gal) of spermaceti. It has been extracted by whalers since the 17th century for human use in cosmetics, textiles, and candles.

Theories for the spermaceti organ's biological function suggest that it may control buoyancy, may act as a focusing apparatus for the whale's sense of echolocation, or possibly both. There has been concrete evidence to support both theories. The buoyancy theory holds that the sperm whale is capable of heating the spermaceti, lowering its density and thus allowing the whale to float; in order for the whale to sink again, it must take water into its blowhole which cools the spermaceti into a denser solid. This claim has been called into question by recent research which indicates a lack of biological structures to support this heat exchange, as well as the fact that the change in density is too small to be meaningful until the organ grows to huge size. Measurement of the proportion of wax esters retained by a harvested sperm whale accurately described the age and future life expectancy of a given individual. The proportion of wax esters in the spermaceti organ increases with the age of the whale: 38–51% in calves, 58–87% in adult females, and 71–94% in adult males.

Spermaceti wax is extracted from sperm oil by crystallisation at 6 °C (43 °F), when treated by pressure and a chemical solution of caustic alkali. Spermaceti forms brilliant white crystals that are hard but oily to the touch, and are devoid of taste or smell, making it very useful as an ingredient in cosmetics, leatherworking, and lubricants. The substance was also used in making candles of a standard photometric value, in the dressing of fabrics, and as a pharmaceutical excipient, especially in cerates and ointments.

The whaling industry in the 17th and 18th centuries was developed to find, harvest and refine the contents of the head of a sperm whale. The crews seeking spermaceti routinely left on three-year tours on several oceans. Cetaceous lamp oil was a commodity that created many maritime fortunes. The light produced by a single pure spermaceti source (candle) became the standard measurement of "candlepower" for another century. Candlepower, a photometric unit defined in the United Kingdom Act of Parliament Metropolitan Gas Act 1860 and adopted at the International Electrotechnical Conference of 1883, was based on the light produced by a pure spermaceti candle.

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