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The Ocean Blog

When a whale dies, the story has just begun. The massive carcass sinks to the seafloor, where it provides food for a deep sea ecosystem on the otherwise mostly barren seafloor. There are several...
This ivory sculpture from Point Barrow, Alaska, represents Kikámigo, a guardian spirit, holding a whale in each hand.
Researchers frequently track North Atlantic right whales from ships or from the air. This video of Phoenix (left) was captured in March 2009 on George’s Shoal, east of Chatham, Mass. Learn more about...
A fossil vertebra that a Smithsonian researcher's mother found while prospecting in the Gatun Formation. It's not just any vertebra, it belongs to a fossil sea cow! According to Jorge Valez-Juarbe, a...
New England Aquarium researchers Dr. Moira Brown and Yan Guilbault conducting aerial surveys for North Atlantic right whales over the Roseway Basin, Canada. More about right whales can be found in...
Monodontids, the group of whales that includes living belugas and narwhals, are emblematic symbols of the Arctic. However, the fossil record shows that these animals had a much larger range than the...
Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, holds an arm bone from a "toothed" mysticete from Vancouver Island. This is the second specimen...
In the late 1990's, researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) invented the D-Tag —a radio device that can be attached by suction cups to a whale's back. Using a tiny underwater...
A reconstruction of a new fossil beluga relative, Bohaskaia monodontoides , described by Smithsonian scientists, is in the foreground. Its living relatives, the beluga and narwhal, are illustrated...
A giant squid engages in a struggle for survival with a sperm whale. Giant squid beaks and other undigested pieces of giant squid have been found in the stomachs of sperm whales . More about the...
Made from spruce wood and caribou teeth, this mask was worn in ceremonies of thanksgiving. It sits atop a decorative breastplate with images of whaling crews in skin boats called umiaks.
Editor's note: Read Nick's first blog post about "toothed" baleen whales to see what their team is excavating on Vancouver Island. We departed from Port Renfrew on Tuesday morning on the Michelle...
Scaffolding and supports at the work site hold a life-size model of a North Atlantic right whale Phoenix—the “ambassador” of the Smithsonian’s Sant Ocean Hall in the National Museum of Natural...
Phoenix – our favorite North Atlantic Right Whale – was spotted feeding this week off the coast of New Hampshire! Researchers track these highly endangered whales (there are only about 450 of them...
Many animals depend on their eyes to navigate, find food, locate mates, and for other important activities. But marine mammals often rely on sound—sometimes far more than sight—for such critical...
Whale baleen, the stiff bristly mouthparts that sieve small prey from the water, was strong yet flexible, and was used to provide structure in many human products, including umbrellas, corsets, and...
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...
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...
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