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The Ocean Blog

Vertebrates evolved in the sea and eventually moved onto land. The ancestors of whales later returned to the sea, taking advantage of its rich food supplies. As early whales adapted to their new...
In the 19th century, "whalebone" was an important fashion tool—however, it wasn't made out of bone, but whale baleen . Dried baleen was flexible yet strong, and used to create structure in clothing,...
Killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) are master hunters, using speed, camouflage, and a variety of techniques to capture their prey. See how a different predator - the great white shark - finds its prey in...
Dr. Stefan Huggenberger from the University of Cologne explains sound production in sperm whales in "Moby Dick's Boom Box: Nasal Complex of Sperm Whales," a presentation at the Smithsonian's National...
Phoenix swims in George’s Bank, off the coast of New England, on March 13, 2009. More about whales can be found in our Tale of a whale featured story .
A male sperm whale feeding near the surface. Sperm whales are a toothed whale , rather than a baleen whale , and are found throughout the world's oceans.
Offshore Peru, during the Eocene (~56-34 million years ago), showing three archaeocetes (ancient whales), along with a previously described fossil penguin. Top to bottom: Perudyptes devriesi ,...
A life-size, meticulously detailed model of the North Atlantic right whale Phoenix hangs in the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC. More about...
A right whale opens its mouth wide, revealing huge plates of baleen hanging from its upper jaw. There are between 200 and 270 baleen plates on each side of a right whale's upper jaw. They work like a...
Every North Atlantic right whale has a pattern of callosities unique to that individual. This distinctive pattern provides a very visual, convenient tool that researchers can use to tell one...
Bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus ) are very social animals, and often travel and hunt in groups called pods. The most common is a nursery group of 5-20 dolphins made up of females and their...
These are fossil remains of archaeocetes, ancient whales, from the Paracas Formation of Peru's Pisco Basin . Smithsonian paleobiologist Nicholas D. Pyenson and a team of scientists discovered the...
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
On a beach in Piña, Panama the tide is rolling out. Faint outlines of skeletal remains rise above the sand. Smithsonian scientists Nicholas Pyenson and Aaron O'Dea along with a team of students...
The rough patches of skin known as callosities occur in unique patterns on all North Atlantic right whales and help researchers identify and track individual whales. This whale is named Phoenix. More...
Close-up of a 17th century painting shows how whales were brought ashore for processing and their blubber rendered into marketable oil. More about the right whale can be found in our Tale of a Whale...
Paeleobiologist Dr. Nicholas Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), set out with Jorge Velez-Juarbe, NMNH Research Student and Ph...
North Atlantic right whales and ocean-going vessels often cross paths. Researchers have worked to show the interactions between whales and ships in order to protect the whales from collision. More...
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