Pic ‘o the week: sky on a whale’s back

As the autumn days become shorter and colder in the Northern Hemisphere, the ocean’s creatures prepare for winter.

In the deep waters off the Central California coast, enormous schools of anchovies are drawing hundreds of humpback whales, along with blue whales, dolphins, seals, and other predators.

Here, blue sky and wispy clouds reflect off a humpback whale’s glistening back. This whale, enjoying an anchovy feast in Monterey Bay, was one of about a dozen that photographer Kate Cummings saw on a recent trip out to sea.

Oct6_63Image courtesy & copyright Kate Cummings of Blue Ocean Whale Watch.

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Pic o’ the week – a whale watches

A humpback whale eyes photographer Rodger Klein in the South Pacific waters off Tonga.

© Rodger Klein

Where great whales come sailing by,
Sail and sail, with unshut eye,
Round the world for ever and aye?
–Matthew Arnold

The southern hemisphere’s humpback whale population is slowly rebounding after being nearly wiped out by 20th century commercial whaling. The good news? The just-announced Camden Sound Marine Park in Western Australia should help safeguard nearly 3,000 square miles of ocean that includes the largest humpback whale calving grounds in that half of the globe. While there’s been a bit of controversy, the park seems a step in the right direction …

Mahalo to Rodger Klein for granting us use of this remarkable photo.
Check out his stuff here: RHK/UW Productions & Design.

Pic o’ the week – squid school

When Jon Schwartz and his buddy Josh Pruitt went kayaking off La Jolla, Calfornia one day, they happened upon this surprising shoal of squid. It massed around Josh’s kayak, and the men were curious – why were the squid apparently fascinated with the kayak? What happened next was one of those rare encounters some lucky people have with ocean creatures – in Jon’s words:

“When I finally got in, I realized why: big fish were below the shoal, forcing them to flee to the surface, and at the same time, mackerel were attacking from the side, and birds were dive bombing them from above!  These squid were under siege and were using any protection they could get, and Josh’s kayak was the best they could find.”

He didn’t know if they’d Continue reading “Pic o’ the week – squid school”

Pic o’ the week – elephant seal enlisted in research

He or she didn’t have a choice, but helped the cause of ocean research anyway.

As Debra Black reports in The Star, this is one of many sea creatures enlisted in the cause of researching our oceans. To find out what really is going on down there — or, in the case of this elephant seal, what the topography of the ocean is really like — some researchers have found ways to get research straight from the animal.

This seal was one of 57 that marine biologist Daniel Costa fitted with the sensors. As Black reports:

“The data of where the seals were going and how far they were diving were recorded every few seconds and sent back by satellite. While doing this, his seals also came up with a plethora of data on the depth of the waters surrounding the Antarctic. That data was able to help {scientists} put together a “much better map” detailing the depth of the ocean floor, thanks to the seals.”

And if it looks like something you wouldn’t want stuck to your head for long, you can rest easy knowing that this device fall off when the seal moults.

Photo by Daniel Costa