Monday, August 30, 2010

Cool Stuff on Beaked Whales

Many of you may have heard about an unusual beaked whale that was medi-vaced to the Big Island. Although it passed away on Monday, right after it was taken in and stabilized (almost two weeks ago), a team of scientists from Paul Nachtigal's HIMB lab immediately flew out to do a non-invasive test of the hearing range of the animal.

Why would hearing matter? These animals "see" with sound as well as using it for communication. Today's oceans are becoming increasingly noisy (boat noise, sonar noise, explosive charges used for mineral exploration, etc.), so it is critical that we understand the frequencies of importance to these animals. And at this point, we simply don't.

So Paul's lab now goes where ever and whenever they can to collect more information. Maybe the big island, maybe even Portugal to the Lisbon Zoo (See: FIRST PILOT WHALE HEARING MEASUREMENTS).

Susan Scott of Ocean Watch gives a great overview of the recent beaked whale event, minus the hearing test See:Beaked whales not rare but are seldom seen in isles The fate of the animal is detailed here: Rare whale dies.
Top image from S. Scott article.



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