In the last few weeks, I’ve been busy with final exams and the start of my field season. Fortunately, many of the other shark bloggers have written about the important topics I’ve missed.
RTSea and Underwater Thrills both have written about how the Gulf oil spill can affect whale sharks, which are filter feeders who spend much of their time near the surface. Other sharks that are threatened by the oil spill include pups who use the Gulf’s shallow estuaries as nurseries, according to a CBS News piece. Underwater Thrills has some disturbing video of sharks in oil in the Gulf.
On a lighter note, the world is a better place since the Chum Buddy came onto the market.
A prehistoric nursery that used to be utilized by my favorite shark species (the Megaladon) has been discovered in Panama. The internet’s best source for prehistoric news is Laelaps.
Underwater Thrills has some exciting news- the National Geographic Channel has a new series about great whites that will be airing this summer.
RTSea has a post about new video showing how thresher sharks use their long tails to stun prey.
Fresh from Antarctica, this update comes to us from Dr. Douglas Nowacek, one of the Principal Investigators for the MISHAP project, by way of our field correspondent, Reny Tyson. Follow along with their adventures at Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas.
Southern Fried Notice: Reny Tyson is a graduate student at the Duke University Marine Lab currently on location in Antarctica tracking Humpback Whales. The main expedition blog is Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas hosted at the Nicholas School of the Environment. Follow their adventure as they track Humpbacks through Antarctic Seas.
Today we begin a journey south towards the Western Antarctic Peninsula to begin year 2 of our program, Multi-scale Interdisciplinary Study of Humpback Whales and their Prey, aptly referred to as MISHAP. We are a team of scientists representing 8 institutions and organizations attempting to understand more fully humpback whale foraging ecology in Antarctic waters – how much are they eating, what are their behaviors associated with eating, and how does the behavior of their primary prey, Antarctic krill, affect their foraging behavior. During last years cruise we encountered some of the highest densities of whales ever recorded and many superswarms of krill (over 3 million tons) in several coves and bays along the Peninsula that the whales were happily foraging on. We are using the DTag (Digital acoustic recording tag) to observe the underwater behaviors of whales while concurrently measuring the behavior and density of krill with several acoustic samplers. This year we are adding a few dimensions to our study including putting a crittercam on the whales and obtaining biopsy samples of the animals. We are excited to see how the conditions will be this year – will we encounter such high densities of krill and whales this year? Will the coves be full of ice by the time we get there? We shall find out in a few short days..
Image courtesy Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas
From a personal note – I can’t express how grateful I am to be part of such an adventure. To be able to work with these scientists with these animals in this environment is indescribable.