Can I adopt a whale?

Of course! Now, do not expect to take a whale home. There is no way your tub can fit a marine mammal comfortably, plus, taking care of a salt water tank is all too fussy.

If you are willing to donate the money you can do just about anything in the world. Adopting a whale is something I highly recommend for a classroom or family project. My fifth grade class adopted a humpback whale (named Pegasus). From the organization that my teacher used to adopt the whale the class received annual letters on the migration of Pegasus. This was a fabulous way to conceptualize currents and migration patterns. I am pretty sure my younger brother’s class adopted her baby.

The well established non-profit, Save the Whales, has a great program to adopt killer whales.

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Why are some animals ‘wallflowers’ and others are ‘social butterflies’?

An animal has many reasons to behave more like a ‘wallflower’ vs. a ‘social butterfly’. Some of the more universal reasons to lean to one behavior more than the other would be 1) habitat, 2) predators or 3) availability of food.

For instance, river dolphins (pictured right) typically are solitaire animals because their habitat is smaller than that of the bottlenose dolphins that live in the open ocean. Bottlenose dolphins are highly social animals. Living in a group works to their benefit in the open ocean. A group can be more aware of predators that are nearby and they are able to work together to gather food. Food is rather tough to gather if you are just one mid-size animal in the expansive sea.

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Image (c)

A plea of the manatee

In early 2009 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) reported that there was a significant increase in the population of the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus), a marine mammal. Almost a year later it was reported that there was a record number of deaths of manatees.

Even though the FWCC pointed out that there may have been more manatees reported in the 2009 populations since the count was done after several cold fronts had clustered the manatees together, was there too much confidence in the public after hearing the news that the public didn’t think they had to participate in best practices to save the manatee? Just an idea.

What are those best practices? Follow no wake signs and do not enter prohibited wildlife sanctuaries, do not feed or touch manatees from a boat, and use snorkel gear (it is not as loud and intrusive to the manatees). Call 1-888-404-FWCC if you were to see an injured, dead, tagged or orphaned manatee.

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Image (c) USGS.

Mass stranding of whales in Italy

They suspect a high ingestion rate of plastic bags.

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Simeon the whale may die without king salmon.

Environmental News  Network sent a news release out today about a new report that states how Orca orca may die off if the numbers of king salmon continue to drop.

The research was published in the Royal Society Biology Letters. The leading cause of the death of the killer whales is actually “nutritional stress” from not being able to find the king salmon. So that is potentially what could happen to me when I do not get a happy fixing of peanut butter once in a while.

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14 fascinating facts about the blue whale

Blue Whale

  1. A toddler can fit into a blue whale’s blowhole. The spray can reach up to 30 feet high.
  2. The blue whale’s scientific name is Balaenoptera musculus.
  3. Blue whales live in all oceans of the world.
  4. A blue whale’s tongue weighs more than an elephant.
  5. Blue whales are the loudest animal on Earth reaching up to 188 decibel.
  6. A blue whale’s heart weighs up to 2,000 pounds. Their heart can be the size of a Mini Cooper.
  7. Blue whales are the fastest growing animal or plant on Earth.
  8. Blue whales can be up to 100 feet long. That is about the length of a NBA basketball court.
  9. A medium sized dog can comfortably walk through a blue whale’s arteries.
  10. Blue whales can live up to 90 years in the wild.
  11. Blue whales look blue underwater, but gray above the surface of the water.
  12. Blue whales tend to sleep in the middle of the day.
  13. Blue whales eat krill.
  14. Blue whales can swim up to 30 miles per hour.

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Do all ocean animals swim together in schools?

Nope, here is a short list of terms used to describe certain groups of ocean animals when they congregate together.

Jellyfish swim in a smack.
Whales swim in a pod.
Herring swim in a seige.
Penguins walking together on land is called a waddle.

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How can you tell if that fin bobbing up and down in the distance belongs to a dolphin or a porpoise?

From far away you can probably only see the fin, right? The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin will have a dorsal fin that is hooked while the Atlantic Harbor Porpoise will have a triangular dorsal fin. If you are closer you will see other differences. For instance, the dolphin is about 7-12 feet as an adult while the porpoise gets to be about six feet. Also, the porpoise has a rather blunt nose while the dolphin has a much more pronounced, almost bottle-shaped, nose. Lastly, the porpoise is usually darker in color than the dolphin. Do you have another great question? Check out and let us know what you always ponder while digging your toes in the sand!

What do you do if you see a marine mammal stranded?

Keep calm. Also, remain at least 100 feet back so as not to scare the animal back into the ocean. If the animal is injured you want to be sure to get experts there immediately to investigate. If you are on the Atlantic coast call one of the following members of the Northeast Stranding Center.

College of the Atlantic (207) 288-5015
University of New England-Hot Line (207) 580-0447

Massachusetts, New Hampshire & Maine:
New England Aquarium (617) 973-5247

Connecticut & Rhode Island:
Mystic Marinelife Aquarium (860) 572-5955

New York:
Riverhead Foundation (631) 369-9829

New Jersey:
Marine Mammal Stranding Center (609) 266-0538

Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Inst.(302) 228-5029

Cooperative Oxford Laboratory (800) 628-9944
National Aquarium in Baltimore (410) 408-6633

Washington, DC:
Smithsonian Institute (202) 357-1923

Virginia Institute of Marine Science (866) 493-1085
Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center (757) 437-6159

Typically you can volunteer at a stranding center. This would involve being available for crowd control and keeping the animal damp with towels during the interim time when an animal is spotted until experts can show up to diagnosis the animal. You must be properly trained before you become a proper marine mammal stranding volunteer.

For more information check out the place I volunteered during my old undergraduate days:

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What is the biggest fish in the sea?

Picture taken at Georgia Aquarium, pictured is...

Image via Wikipedia

The whale shark is the biggest fish on the planet. The largest whale shark measures about 66 feet long and 74,957 pounds.

Not to be confused with the blue whale, a mammal, which is the largest animal on the planet. The largest blue whale measured about 110 feet and up to 400,000 pounds!

The whale shark got its name because the shark’s mouth is shaped just like baleen whales. Baleen whales and whale sharks both munch on krill. For being the largest fish in the sea the whale shark is surprisingly affable to divers and known as a relaxed fish.

How are ‘whale sharks’ and ‘whales’ different?

Whales are mammals, just like people, and must breathe air. Dolphins, seals, porpoises, otters (and some people say, polar bears) are mammals that live in the ocean (ie., marine mammals).

Another difference is that mammals raise their young. Whale sharks give live birth like mammals, but, move on right after and don’t raise them. Most other fish do lay eggs.

Fish also have gills to breathe underwater, unlike mammals that must come up to the surface of the ocean and breathe air.

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