Sperm whales can take over an hour to decide together which way to go

Family of spermwhales underwater near water surface, shot from below photo credit italy sokol-dbw8sol

Generally, only spending time with their clan (numbering around 20,000), it seems that decisions about where to go, are made cooperatively in a democratic way.

Taking up to an hour to make the decision about the direction of travel, they can often travel in large groups making communal decisions about destination, route and speed, as well as when to feed and what to do about predators.

Some of these clans live over large areas, split by as much as thousands of kilometres, and it is thought to be akin to language forming in humans. Interestingly, these clans can share areas of the sea, but will only spend time with other members of their clan. Social units within clans, are based around the females, with each unit consisting of around 10 females with their offspring. These become very close, with other females babysitting young while their mothers make deep dives to feed – even suckling is done as a group.

The sperm whale has a brain which is thought to be larger than any other animal to ever live.

Over a million were killed for their very pure oil, between 1712 and 1982. There are thought to be around 300,000 in the worlds oceans, however, before whaling it is thought that there were 1.1 million.

New DNA tests have found that blue whales have been mating with fin whales

It appears that blue whales have been mating with fin whales far more frequently than previously thought. One of the things that is both exciting and alarming, is that it suggests that whales can interbreed more easily.

While they are currently listed as endangered, and are starting to recover, of the 4 subspecies, the one found in the north Atlantic and the north Pacific is the most at risk. In otherwards, this subspecies could become extinct as a result of hybridisation.

On average around 3.5% of the blue whale DNA, comes from the fin whale.

It is perhaps odd that these species would interbreed, as blue whales weigh around 85 tonnes more than fin whales.

It had been assumed that these occasional hybrids could not go on to produce fertile offspring, but this has been shown to not be the case. What appears interesting though, is that there does not appear to be any blue whale DNA in the fin whale population, suggesting that they offspring will only ever be able to breed with blue whales.

Peales Dolphin

Peales Dolphin

Peale’s dolphin (also known as the Black-chinned dolphin and the Peales black-chinned dolphin) is a small dolphin found in the waters around Tierra del Fuego at the bottom of South America. However, since Rice’s work, Peale’s dolphin has been adopted as the standard common name. Peale’s dolphin is of typical size in its family — about 1 m in length at birth and 2.1 m (6.9 ft) when fully mature. Its adult weight is about 115 kg. It has a dark-grey face and chin. The back is largely black with a single off-white stripe running curving and thickened as it runs down the back on each side. The belly is white. Conspicuously, also a white patch occurs under just behind each flippers. These are known as the “armpits”. The flanks also have a large white-grey patch above the flipper.  

The total population is unknown, but recent research estimates there to be ~21,800 individuals in the South Atlantic part of its range.

Peale’s dolphins’ propensity for moving over only small areas, and staying close to shore, has rendered them vulnerable to interference by man. During the 1970s and ’80s, Chilean fisherman killed and used thousands of Peale’s dolphins for crab bait each year. This practice has decreased, but not been made illegal.

In Argentina, Peale’s dolphins have been reported becoming trapped in gill nets, but the extent of this is not known. Conservation groups such as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation demand further research be made into this species.

The Peale’s dolphin or black-chinned dolphin is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It is listed on Appendix II as it has an unfavourable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international co-operation organised by tailored agreements.

Below you will see a video of this species, and below that a list of all (if any) articles written on this species on this website – it will update automatically. Below that, we will add any links in the area which might help you see this species in the wild. They will be added as we make connections.

Hourglass dolphin

Hourglass dolphin

The hourglass dolphin  is a small dolphin in the family Delphinidae that inhabits offshore Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters. It is commonly seen from ships crossing the Drake Passage, but has a circumpolar distribution.

The species was identified as a new species by Jean René Constant Quoy and Joseph Paul Gaimard in 1824 from a drawing made in the South Pacific in 1820. It is the only to have been widely accepted as a species solely on witness accounts.

Sighting surveys were conducted in 1976–77 and 1987–88. Abundance was estimated to be 144,300 individuals, based on line transect sightings in January 1977 and January 1988 in northern Antarctic waters. This is the only abundance estimate of hourglass dolphins to date.

It is currently listed as least concern on the IUCN red list.

Below you will find a video of the species, and below this a list of any articles that have (or will be) written on this species. Under this, we will over time, hope to add links which will help you see this animal in the wild.

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