Marine Science

Blue Whales Sing at Same Pitch, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 17, 2004   View Article

Luciano Pavarotti they’re not, but if blue whales ever build up a repertoire they could give the Italian opera singer a run for his money. The cetaceans have perfect pitch. So perfect, in fact, that it’s impossible to tell individuals apart from their calls.

“You might think that a big whale makes a lower sound than a small whale—they come in all different sizes—but they all make the same pitch,” said Roger Bland, a physicist at San Francisco State University in California.

New Coral Family Identified in Atlantic

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 25, 2004   View Article

Until now, all Atlantic coral families were believed to be close relatives to distinct coral families in the Pacific Ocean. But a new study for the first time identifies a family of corals found only in the Atlantic.

According to the study, at least one third of the corals that thrive in the Atlantic Ocean are free of any family ties to corals in the Pacific Ocean. The study could transform how the marine organisms are viewed, classified, and conserved.

Tagged Animal “Army” to Help Map Ocean, Experts Say

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 23, 2004   View Article

Equipped with high-tech data-collection tags, a veritable army of marine animals is being prepped to swarm the North Pacific Ocean on a reconnaissance mission of epic proportions. Their mandate is simple: Live a normal life.

The tags collect data on the behavior and environmental preferences of these animals, helping researchers create interactive, three-dimensional portraits of the inner workings of what may be Earth’s last great unknown, the ocean.

Crittercam Sea Turtle Study May Aid Conservation

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 12, 2004   View Article

Sea turtles around the world are on a slippery slope toward extinction, but in Shark Bay, on the remote coast of Western Australia, two species of the ocean-dwelling reptiles thrive among a flourishing diversity of life.

“Shark Bay gives us a glimpse of what other marine habitats might have been like before they were changed by people,” said Mike Heithaus, a marine biologist at Florida International University in Miami.

Whale-Worn Camera Sees Precision in Feeding Frenzy

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 16, 2004   View Article

When the normally placid waters of Alaska’s Chatham Straight begin to bubble in a violent boil, marine biologist Fred Sharpe slips up to the cauldron’s edge for a front row seat. He knows a coordinated feeding frenzy of epic proportions has just begun.

The bubbles are blown by a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) circling about 45 feet (14 meters) below the ocean surface as several of the whale’s mates scream and wave their pectoral flippers in an effort to ensnare herring (Clupea pallasi) in the net of bubbles.

Squid’s Built-In Light to Inspire New Gadgets?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 8, 2004   View Article

A nocturnal squid that cruises the ocean around Hawaii for prey and mates uses a built-in flashlight to hide its shadow from predatory fish on the seafloor.

The unique light organ found in the Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymma scolopes) is composed of stacks of silvery reflector plates called reflectins that surround colonies of luminescent, symbiotic bacteria.

New Whale Species Announced by Japanese Scientists

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 19, 2003   View Article

The number of rorqual whale species swimming in the world’s oceans has jumped to eight from six, according to new research by a team of Japanese scientists published in tomorrow’s issue of the science journal Nature. The research shows that rorquals commonly referred to as Bryde’s whales actually represent three distinct species.

Rorqual whales (Balaenoptera) do not have teeth. Instead they have baleen, a horny substance found in rows of plates along their upper jaws, and they are thus classified as baleen whales. They range from about 26 to 92 feet (8 to 28 meters) in length and weigh upwards of 220,000 pounds (100,000 kilograms).

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach