Narwhals are sometimes referred to as the unicorns of the sea because of the long, pointed horns that extend from their heads. Narwhals are sometimes referred to as the unicorns of the sea because of the long, pointed horns that extend from their heads.

The nerve-filled appendage helps the animals’ sense temperature and perhaps find prey and mates

Narwhals are sometimes referred to as the unicorns of the sea because of the long, pointed horns that extend from their heads. Male narwhals' tusks can grow up to nine feet long,. Male narwhals' tusks can grow up to nine feet long. They are actually modified teeth that protrude out from the corner of their mouth, rather than forehead-centred horns.

Scientists do not know what purpose the narwhal's tusk serves, exactly. They've speculated that it might be used for skewering enemy animals or for breaking through the icy Arctic waters where the animals live. One team hypothesized that the tusk serves as a sort of sensory organ, Wired describes, and recently decided to investigate that idea.

To put their hunch to the test, the researchers devised a "tusk jacket," Drake writes—a sort of plastic hoodie that fit comfortably over the narwhals' tusks but excluded the outside environment. The team changed the concentration of salt in the water that filled the tusk jacket, which acts as a proxy for temperature (more ice equals colder water with more salt, while less ice means warmer water with less salt). Wired:

He found that narwhal heart rates rose in response to high salt concentrations, presumably because these concentrations normally suggest that the sea is freezing and entrapment is possible. The animals’ heart rates dropped when the tusks were washed with fresh water, suggesting they could detect this change.

The team only tested the tusks for a response to salt but think the whales might also use their tusks for seeking out prey or finding mates. Why, what would you do with an extra long, sensitive tooth?

Published in Marine Wildlife
Friday, 01 March 2019 08:28

Dolphins call each other by name

Researchers in Florida say bottlenose dolphins come up with their own names when they are very young and use these names to communicate with one another. Bottlenose dolphins call out the specific names of loved ones when they become separated, a study finds. Bottlenose dolphins surfs the waves Bottlenose dolphins surfs the waves Other than humans, the dolphins are the only animals known to do this, according to the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The big difference with bottlenose dolphins is that these communications consist of whistles, not words. Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves, with dolphins having a “signature whistle” that encodes other information. It would be somewhat like a human shouting, “Hey everybody! I’m an adult healthy male named George, and I mean you no harm!” The new finding is that bottlenose dolphins also say the names of certain other dolphins.z“Animals produced copies when they were separated from a close associate and this supports our belief that dolphins copy another animal’s signature whistle when they want to reunite with that specific individual,” lead author Stephanie King of the University of St. Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit told Discovery News. King and her colleagues collected acoustic data from wild bottlenose dolphins around Sarasota Bay, Fla., from 1984 to 2009. The researchers also intensely studied four captive adult male dolphins housed at The Seas Aquarium, also in Florida. The captive males are adults that keepers named Calvin, Khyber, Malabar and Ranier. Bottlenose dolphins communicate through a series of whistles. Bottlenose dolphins communicate through a series of whistles. These bottlenose dolphins, however, as well as all of the wild ones, developed their own signature whistles that serve as names in interactions with other dolphins. “A dolphin emits its signature whistle to broadcast its identity and announce its presence, allowing animals to identify one another over large distances and for animals to recognize one another and to join up with each other,” King explained. “Dolphin whistles can be detected up to 20 km away (12.4 miles) depending on water depth and whistle frequency.” The researchers said dolphins copy the signature whistles of loved ones, such as a mother or close male buddy, when the two are apart. These “names” were never emitted in aggressive or antagonistic situations and were only directed toward loved ones. The whistle copies also always had a unique variation to them, so the dolphins weren’t merely mimicking each other. The dolphins instead were adding their own “tone of voice” via unique whistling. While researchers often hesitate to apply the “l word” -- language -- to non-human communications, bottlenose dolphins and possibly other dolphin species clearly have a very complex and sophisticated communication system. he bottlenose dolphin is probably the most widely recognized marine mammal. he bottlenose dolphin is probably the most widely recognized marine mammal. “Interestingly, captive dolphins can learn new signals and refer to objects and it may be that dolphins can use signature whistle copies to label or refer to an individual, which is a skill inherent in human language,” King said. Heidi Harley, a professor of psychology at New College of Florida, is a leading expert on cognitive processes in dolphins. She agrees with the new paper’s conclusions. Harley told Discovery News that it can be challenging to study dolphin signature whistles, since it’s difficult to identify which particular dolphin is emitting the sounds, and whether or not the sounds are just mimicked copies. Dolphin-speaker-1-640x477 “Interestingly, captive dolphins can learn new signals and refer to objects and it may be that dolphins can use signature whistle copies to label or refer to an individual, which is a skill inherent in human language,” King said. Heidi Harley, a professor of psychology at New College of Florida, is a leading expert on cognitive processes in dolphins. She agrees with the new paper’s conclusions. Harley told Discovery News that it can be challenging to study dolphin signature whistles, since it’s difficult to identify which particular dolphin is emitting the sounds, and whether or not the sounds are just mimicked copies. “This study provides evidence that copies of signature whistles include elements that differ from the whistles of the original whistler, while still maintaining the changes in frequency over time that allow a listener to identify the original whistler,” Harley said. “In addition, that signature whistle copying occurs between close associates, suggesting it is used affiliatively.” King and her team are now using sound playback experiments to see how wild, free-ranging dolphins respond to hearing a copy of their own signature whistle.

Published in Dolphins

 

Toxic algal bloom off Washington, US. Left is the natural colour, right has been enhanced to reveal chlorophyll concentrations (Image: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/ORBIMAGE) Toxic algal bloom off Washington, US. Left is the natural colour, right has been enhanced to reveal chlorophyll concentrations (Image: SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/ORBIMAGE)

Toxic algal blooms are bad enough on the ocean surface, but now it turns out that the toxin in them sinks to the ocean floor – where it persists for weeks.

Far from degrading soon after the bloom, as previously assumed, new research suggests that the neurotoxin that causes shellfish poisoning, domoic acid, sinks to the ocean floor and could poison marine mammals, birds and humans.

"The first signs of an algal bloom are often birds washing up on the shore or seals acting funny, aggressive and twitching, looking as if they were drunk," says Claudia Benitez-Nelson of the University of South Carolina.

"We used to think that once the bloom died, the danger was over, but now it turns out that domoic acid is a 'gift' that just keeps on giving."

Benitez-Nelson's team are the first to look for the chemical in algae particles sinking through the ocean, as well as in sediment samples on the ocean floor, up to 800 metres down. They found copious amounts of the neurotoxin, reaching concentrations eight times the US federal limit for the substance in shellfish.

Toxic shock

The team also compared the peak of domoic acid levels from the sediment with those of algae blooms at the surfaces. Their findings indicate that the toxin reaches the bottom of the ocean in only three days but stays there for much longer – at least several weeks.

The speedy trip to the bottom is probably driven by dead algae clumping together at the surface to form heavier aggregates, says the team, a process that also protects the toxin from degradation.

Domoic acid gets broken down easily in water and by sunlight, but once the clumped algae are buried in the sediment, the toxin may stay protected until a bottom-dwelling organism eats it.

"Domoic acid is a rich amino acid that will be tasty to worms and other critters, who may suffer no ill effects from it," says Benitez-Nelson.

Raphael Kudela at the University of Santa Cruz in California says that the new work is "the missing link to explain why domoic acid also shows up in bottom-dwelling organisms like crabs and flatfish. These contain lots of commercially important species, but they are not yet monitored for domoic acid."

The new data warrants studies to test if these species should be included in future monitoring efforts, according to Kudela. So far, only shellfish that live close to the water surface are monitored.

To Benitez-Nelson, the most important next step now is to work out in more detail how much longer the domoic acid sticks around and into how many more organisms it gets.

"It is clearly a lot more prevalent and spread out than we thought before and this problem affects many areas, not just California. On top of this, all signs seem to point to further increases in the future as people dump more and more algae feeding nutrients into the ocean."

Published in Marine Wildlife
Friday, 01 March 2019 08:05

Alien like Portugese man-of-war

 

This strange sea creature is the amazing Portuguese man-of-war (Caravela Portuguesa) –.

Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish

A jellyfish-like marine cnidarian of the family Physaliidae. Its venomous tentacles can deliver a powerful sting.

The venomous tentacles can deliver a painful sting. The venomous tentacles can deliver a painful sting.

Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a jellyfish but a siphonophore, which differs from jellyfish in that it is not actually a single multicellular organism but a colonial organism made up of many highly specialized minute individuals called zooids. These zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.

Published in Marine Wildlife

Sperm whale mass strandings are mysterious events, which raise the concern and curiosity of the public opinion. The causes remain largely unknown, although many hypotheses have been considered and analyzed, including natural factors, such as biologic disease agents ; impairment of the navigation and echo-location systems due to bathymetric features, acoustic dead zones or anomalies of the Earth's geomagnetic field due to solar activity , the effects of lunar cycles meteorological and oceanographic factors like local disturbances or basin-related temperature variations influencing prey distribution and large-scale climatic events. Furthermore, anthropogenic factors like noise pollution or environmental contaminants have been also proposed as possible causes of strandings.

Mass strandings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) remain peculiar and rather unexplained events, which rarely occur in the Mediterranean Sea. Mass strandings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) remain peculiar and rather unexplained events, which rarely occur in the Mediterranean Sea.

A strong social component, which may prompt healthy animals to follow sick or disordered members of a pod, has been also considered as an additional relevant feature to be pondered in investigating the causes of mass strandings Mass mortalities involving sperm whales are usually clustered in determined geographical areas, such as the North Sea and in the Southern Australian and New Zealand

The seven sperm whales took the same “wrong way” into the Adriatic Sea, a potentially dangerous trap for Mediterranean sperm whales.

The seven sperm whales took the same “wrong way” into the Adriatic Sea, a potentially dangerous trap for Mediterranean sperm whales. The seven sperm whales took the same “wrong way” into the Adriatic Sea, a potentially dangerous trap for Mediterranean sperm whales.

Although in the Mediterranean Sea the sperm whale is one of eight cetacean species considered to be regular inhabitants, mass strandings are rarely reported. In December 2009, a pod of seven sperm whales stranded along the coastline of the Gargano Promontory (Italy), in the Southern Adriatic Sea. Three animals were still alive and died within 48 hours after stranding.

Sperm whales are considered to be vagrant or absent in the waters surrounding the stranding place, and particularly in the Central and Northern areas of the Adriatic Sea, where the habitat is not proper to this deep-diving species. Sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea occur preferentially in deep continental slope waters where mesopelagic cephalopods are most abundant .In the Adriatic Sea, sperm whale mass strandings have occurred five times since historical times, with the oldest known instance dating back to 1584. sperm whale standing ancient

In addition, some reports of single individuals stranded dead or alive included mention to one or more other sperm whales sighted at sea in the close proximity to the stranding location, sometimes for several days . Groups stranded on the Adriatic Sea coasts (range 3–8 individuals) are smaller compared to the mean size of groups stranded outside of the Mediterranean Sea .

sperm whale starndings 31 Nocturnal necropsy and gas bubbles.
Fig. A shows a scene of the nocturnal necropsy on animal no. 7. In Fig. B and C gas bubbles in the heart veins (black arrows) and in an intra cardiac clot of animal no. 5 are shown.

Despite all these observations, we were not able to confirm that these stranded sperm whales formed a single stable group with asocial hierarchy, although we would rather suggest that more than one loose male aggregation and/or several solitary individuals could have coalesced in a limited sea area, most likely in the Ionian Sea, between summer and fall. From there they subsequently entered the Adriatic Sea for unknown reasons.

To the best of our knowledge, no relevant unusual natural events (i.e. seaquake or weather storms) or noxious anthropogenic activities (military drills using sonar) that could have caused an avoidance behaviour occurred temporally and spatially associated with the event.

The only relevant anomaly reported by the marine data archives was the increased sea superficial temperature in November and December along the Hellenic Trench and Eastern part of the Adriatic Sea, possibly constituting a thermal front in which upwelling and/or down welling could have been favourable to the development of cephalopod populations.

 

Published in Marine Wildlife
Friday, 01 March 2019 07:03

There’s no such thing as a jellyfish

 

Jellyfish with its venemous tentacles. Jellyfish with its venomous tentacles.

By all accounts, jellyfish are creatures that kill people, eat microbes, grow to tens of meters, filter phytoplankton, take over ecosystems, and live forever. Watch the video…

{youtube}]http://youtu.be/3HzFiQFFQYw{/youtube}

Because of the immense diversity of gelatinous plankton, jelly-like creatures can individually have each of these properties.However this way of looking at them both overstates and underestimates their true diversity. Taxonomically, they are far more varied than a handful of exemplars that are used to represent jellyfish or especially the so-called “true” jellyfish. Ecologically, they are even more adaptable than one would expect by looking only at the conspicuous bloom forming families and species that draw most of the attention.

In reality, the most abundant and diverse gelatinous groups in the ocean are not the ones that anyone ever sees.

Published in Marine Wildlife
Thursday, 28 February 2019 13:36

White Shark Facts

Did you know that....

  • White Sharks are also known as Great White Sharks, Carcharodon carcharias(Latin) and White Pointer Sharks.
  • 070507ali1 080812IMG_9024
  • Their bodies are counter-shaded with a charcoal to black, grey or even dark brown top (dorsal surface) and completely white underneath (ventral surface)
  • Counter-shading makes it difficult for their prey to see them
  • One of the most successful predators in the world
  • Live on a diverse diet of fish, other sharks, seals, dolphins and even scavenge on dead whales
  • They have many different ways to catch their food from chasing fish, to sneaking up on stingrays to attacking from below when trying to eat seal
  • Have taste buds inside their mouth and throat and are more fussy than other sharks like tiger sharks
  • Have a lateral line made of special hair-like cells which runs from their tail to their head and can detect small water vibrations and currents 090711DSC_0286
  • Use their electrosense to detect the electric field given off by all living animals and can even find prey hidden under the sand
  • They are sensitive to low frequency sounds as produced by struggling prey
  • They use body language and smell to communicate with one another

  • Deepest recorded dive was over 1200
  • Can breach out of the water over 2m into the air
  • One of the most widely distributed sharks found in all oceans, except the polar seas
  • Areas with the highest concentrations are Western Cape, South Africa, South Australia, West coast USA, Guadalupe Island Mexico and New Zealand
  • Found near the coast and in deep oceanic waters
  • Grow slowly only becoming mature after 10 years (males) and 15 years (females)
  • Live for more than 60 years
  • Reproduce slowly with litters of 2 - 10 baby sharks, called pups
  • Gestation is thought to be over 12 months
  • Give birth to live young (viviparous)Each pup is between 1.2 - 1.7 meters long when it is born
  • There is no parental care
  • World's largest predatory shark/fish growing up to 6.1 metres
  • Females grow bigger than male 09080224-03-09
  • They weigh over 2000 kgs
  • They have six senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and electroreception
  • They can see in the day and at night and can see colour
  • They don't have eyelids, but instead roll their eyes back to protect them
  • Sometimes they will stick their heads out of the water which is called spyhopping
  • They have the strongest smell out of all sharks and can smell one drop of blood in a million parts water
  • Man kills over 100 million sharks a year,
  • Sharks cause less than five deaths worldwide per year.
  • Chairs and toasters kill more people than sharks
  • Great White Sharks are Vulnerable to Extinction

 

Published in Sharks

The diver – Jasmine Santana of the Catalina Island Marine Institute – reportedly thought, “I have to drag this thing out of here or nobody will believe me.”

oarfish-Santa-Catalina-Islands-CA-10-13-2013-300x187

While snorkeling off the coast of southern California Jasmine Santana made what some are now calling “the discovery of a lifetime.” It was the silvery body of a dead, serpent-like oarfish measuring 18 feet (5.4 meters) in length. Santana, who is an instructor at the Catalina Island Marine Institute, dragged the carcass as far as she could toward shore, and needed more than 15 helpers to pull the oarfish to shore. Experts say these oarfish may have been responsible for ancient legends of sea serpents. 

Published in Uncategorized
Thursday, 28 February 2019 13:23

10 Amazing Facts About Ocean Animals

With over 72% of the Earth’s surface covered by salt water, the Earth’s oceans are home to 230,000 known species. And that’s with only 5% of the Earth’s oceans considered explored! In celebration of the vast unknown of the ocean, we present our favorite amazing facts about ocean animals: amazing-facts-ocean-animals-blue-whales

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-dolphins-sleep

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-electric-eel

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-jellyfish

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-octopus-hearts

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-oyster-gender

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-seahorses

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-shrimps-heart

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-sponges

amazing-facts-ocean-animals-turtles

Published in Marine Wildlife
Thursday, 28 February 2019 13:06

Scientists Solve Mystery of Birds' Flying V

 

Migrating birds flap in and out of rhythm depending on where they are in formation flight_formation_ group

Secret weapon of birds and underdog hockey players alike, the flying V formation is believed to be ideal for energy and aerodynamics. A study published today in Nature not only confirms this idea, but it also fills in the blanks of how and why birds use it. Most of what we know about the physics of flying comes from studying airplanes—birds push air down to stay aloft and glide through the air similarly. Wings also leave a vortex of air in their wake: air flowing off the top of the wingtips (upwash) creates lift, and air coming off the bottom (downwash) pushes down. “The simple rule is upwash is good air, and downwash is bad air,” says Steve Portugal, a comparative ecophysiologist at the Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK, and a co-author of the new study.

flight_formation_

Whether you’re a bird or a plane, you theoretically want to ride the small upwash part of the vortex. And the flying V configuration, the authors find, helps birds to do that. Previously, scientists suspected that birds formed a V in flight because the shape allowed some of them to burn less energy. A 2001 study found that pelicans at the front of the V had faster heart rates—and probably used more energy—than those further back. But how do birds behave within that configuration? Studies of flying birds in the wild are few and far between, and theoretical models of birds in flight only get you so far. So, Portugal and his colleagues teamed up with Waldrappteam, a conservation group that is reintroducing the critically endangered northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita) to southern Europe. If northern bald ibis hatchlings are born in captivity, they think of humans as their parents and grow to rely on humans for everything. Reintroducing them to the wild is tricky—to survive, they needed to learn their natural migration route. Waldrappteam teaches these routes. Portugal and colleagues remotely observed birds that were born in a zoo in Vienna, Austria, on one such navigation lesson. First, the scientists developed data loggers, slightly smaller and lighter than an iPod, and strapped one to each bird. Then, over several weeks, the birds followed their human “parents” in a microlight parachute aircraft to spend their winter in Italy.

foster_parents_stefanie_heese_front_and_daniela_trobe_with_birds

How do birds sense when to flap to the beat? Bret Tobalske, a biologist who studies the biomechanics of flight at the University of Montana Flight Laboratory in Missoula, points out that the mechanism may come down to a combination of vision, whisker-like receptors on avian wingtips called filoplumes, and reflexive reaction pathways in the brain. Scientists just don't know. The study is at the forefront of a scientific trend looking at animal movement in the natural environment. “It demonstrates a dramatic step forward in measuring the dynamics of animal locomotion in the wild,” says Tobalske. The ibis project is part of a series of animal movement studies—other projects include examining packs of wild African dogs, flocks of pigeons, and herds of sheep.   

Published in Uncategorized
Page 1 of 2

 

 

 

 

 

--

Quick menu

Travel Routes

  • Cape West Coast
  • Cape Peninsula
  • Cape Whale Coast
  • Cape Agulhas
  • Garden Route
  • Wild Coast
  • Sunshine Coast
  • KwaZulu Natal

Nature Lovers 

  • Wine Tasting
  • Birdwatching
  • Whale Watching
  • Hiking / Walking Routes
  • Cable Car - Table Mountain
  • Animal Sanctuaries
  • Arts & Culture
  • Scenic Drives

For the adventurous

  • Shark cage diving
  • Mountain biking
  • Quad bike tours
  • Cape Town Zipline
  • Paragliding
  • Kayaking
  • Snorkeling
  • Skydiving

Truck

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet.

Storage

Vero eros et accumsan et iusto odio dignissim qui blandit praesent luptatum zzril delenit augue duis dolore te feugait.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. Ut wisi enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exerci tation ullamcorper.