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(Franco Banfi / Oceans-Image / Photoshot)

Wild Things: Killer Whales, Spiders and Woodpeckers

Yellow saddle goatfish, mastodon ribs and more in this month’s summary of wildlife news

Observed: Killer whale Orcinus orca

Killer whale
(John Durban / NOAA / NMFS)
Lives: In the Antarctic (a population known as type B), feeding on seals and penguins.
Beelines: Occasionally for the subtropical waters off Uruguay and Brazil, a study documents for the first time. But the trips are so quick they’re probably not for foraging or giving birth. Instead, the trips may be the equivalent of a vacation skin peel.
Returns: Without the coating of algae that tinges its skin yellow. John Durban of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, and his co-author suggest the orcas travel to milder latitudes when they shed their skin “to help the whales regenerate skin tissue in a warmer environment with less heat loss,” he says.

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