Whales

An unidentified earplug from the National Museum of Natural History collection.

Whale Earwax: What You Can Learn From Strange Collections

An unidentified earplug from the National Museum of Natural History collection. The light and dark layers come from a build up of keratin and lipids and can be used to estimate whale age. Credit:...

When Did Today’s Whales Get So Big?

More recently than you might think, say scientists who scoured the fossil record Two skulls belonging to extinct marine mammal herbivores used in the new study, both from the Smithsonian’s collections. Credit: A. Boersma...
A hippopotamus-like creature swims underwater

Flippers or Feet? An Extinct Mammal May Have Been Replaced By Today's Sea Cows

In the seagrass beds and kelp forests of the Oligocene-Miocene transition, nearly 32.5 to 10.5 million years ago, a four-legged, gnarly-toothed mammal roamed the Northern Pacific shores of what is now Japan, Canada and...
Two killer whales.

How Drones in the Sky Unlock Secrets of the Sea

A remote-controlled hexacopter captured this image of two northern resident killer whales photographed from 100 feet. Scientists use the unmanned drone as a cost-effective, non-intrusive method for monitoring the health of whales. Credit: NOAA,...
North Atlantic right whales and ocean-going vessels often cross paths.

Slow Down for Right Whales

Video of Slow Down For Right Whales By Hannah Waters Right whales in the North Atlantic are real city slickers. Rather than spend their time in the ocean’s wide-open range, they swim in warm...
Hawaiian Monk Seal

Struggling to Survive, But with a Chance to Thrive

Progress for Eight Endangered Ocean Creatures Video of Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive By Ellen Spooner From snails to whales, approximately 2,270 species are listed as endangered or threatened globally under the...
Turbinolia stephensoni

Ocean Objects of Wonder

An unidentified earplug from the National Museum of Natural History collection. The light and dark layers come from a build up of keratin and lipids and can be used to estimate whale age. Credit:...

Ocean Optimism Video - Slow Down For Right Whales

Whaling, beginning in the 1600s, killed thousands of North Atlantic right whales and their tendency to feed at the ocean’s surface within 50 miles of shore made them easy targets. They were hunted so...

Life After Whale (On Whale Falls)

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...
A narwhal breaches the surface, its tusk pointed to the sky

Why a Tusk? The real-life unicorns of the sea and the tusks that make them famous

A narwhal breaching the water's surface, his tusk points to the sky. Male narwhals will sometimes cross their tusks, a behavior called "tusking". Credit: Glenn Williams In the frigid Arctic Ocean , a mysterious...

Why do Whales Sing?

The ocean is a vast, open space, so to communicate underwater, it's best that your message travels far. Sound travels four times faster in water than in air, so many animals use this to...
A beaked whale at the ocean's surface

Seeing with Sound: Acoustic monitoring of beaked whales can help determine oil spill impacts

A Gervais' beaked whale comes up to the surface to take a quick breath. Credit: NOAA By L.K. Ward and Danielle Hall When compared to dolphins and large baleen whales, beaked whales lose a...

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Just like dolphins, beaked whales send pulses of high-frequency sound through the water that work like a SONAR ping to find prey in the dark waters of the deep. Each species broadcasts a unique...

Song of the Spindle

Illustrator Drew Christie created this light-hearted short film about how humans could really learn something from whales. Check it out and learn about all the different cetaceans and our commonalities, such as a shared...
Hawaiian Monk Seal

Backbone of Biodiversity at Risk

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN ) maintains the Red List of Threatened Species , an inventory of the global conservation status of plants and animals. In a 2010 study...
An adult and juvenile killer whale frolic in the water.

Menopausal Moms: A Mammal Mystery

Killer whales ( Orcinus orca ) have something in common with humans: early menopause. Credit: Robert L. Pitman, NOAA Fisheries, USA In honor of Mother's Day, the Citizens of the Sea blog salutes ocean-going...

The Oil Spill, Two Years Later

Mark Dodd, a wildlife biologist from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, surveying oiled sargassum seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources...