Whales

A Brief, Fascinating History of Ambergris

The odd, enduring appeal of a scarce commodity few people use and no one really needs

Though considered a whale, Phiomicetus anubis had legs with webbed feet to pursue prey on both land and sea with its powerful jaws and sharp teeth 43 million years ago.

New Research

'God of Death' Whale Was Scourge of Land and Sea 43 Million Years Ago

The prehistoric mammal possessed a powerful jaw and likely had a raptor-like feeding style

There are many reasons to be worried about the state of the world’s oceans. But some scientists say it’s important to point to successes, in order to motivate people to take further, evidence-based action.

Seven Reasons to Be Optimistic About the World's Oceans

The health of the ocean is under threat, but these good-news stories deserve attention too

An adult male transient or Bigg's killer whale.

Stranded Killer Whale Survives With the Help of Humans

The whale was spotted stuck among the rocks of an island in Southeast Alaska, but after about six hours on dry land the whale was able to swim off

A pygmy blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) crosses the Indian Ocean and passes near Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

Using Nuclear Bomb Detectors, Scientists Overhear the Secret Songs of a Never-Before-Seen Pygmy Blue Whale Population

The new group is named 'Chagos' after the islands close to where the melodies were detected

New genetic research suggests that the gray whale spotted off the coast of Namibia in 2013 originated in the western Pacific.

New Research

Gray Whale Breaks Migration Record With 16,700-Mile Journey

The whale, which is usually found in the northern Pacific Ocean, was spotted off Namibia in 2013

Sometime between 30-40 seconds after the diver was swallowed, the whale began to move its head from side to side and then resurfaced.

A Cape Cod Lobster Diver Was Swallowed by a Humpback Whale—and Then Spat Back Out

Except for severe bruising and a dislocated knee, the survivor is in good health and ready to return to work, he says

Tinier whales threaten the species’ survival because smaller whales do not have as many offspring.  Nursing mothers who entangle themselves in nets also produce smaller calves.

Humans, We've Shrunk the Whales

North Atlantic right whales born today are three feet shorter on average than whales born in 1980—and commercial fishing could be to blame

A new analysis dates the wax bust's creation to the 19th century—some 300 years after Leonardo's death in 1519.

New Research

Whale Wax Helps Scholars Solve Mystery of Supposed Leonardo da Vinci Sculpture

Radiocarbon dating places the bust's creation centuries after the Renaissance artist's death in 1519

As many as 70 orcas cooperatively hunted, killed and ate a roughly 50-foot long blue whale last month off the coast of Australia.

More Than 50 Orcas Hunt and Kill Blue Whale Off Australian Coast

This is one of just a handful of times that orcas have ever been recorded killing a blue whale

A study of ten narwhal tusks reveals how the animals are responding to a swiftly changing Arctic.

New Research

Study of Narwhal Tusks Reveals a Swiftly Changing Arctic

Chemical analysis of ten tusks shows shifting diets and increasing levels of mercury as climate change warms the polar region

The researchers found that 3D tracking tags picked up circling movements in various animals including, king penguins, tiger sharks, whale sharks and a Cuvier's beaked whale.

Researchers Are Investigating Why Marine Animals Swim in Perplexing Circles

Sea creatures may exhibit the spiraling behavior to navigate the ocean, for mating rituals, or to track prey

NOAA geneticist Patricia Rosel and Smithsonian marine mammal collection manager John Ososky examine the Rice’s whale skeleton at the Smithsonian whale warehouse in Maryland.

How the Rice's Whale Became a New Species

The intact skeleton of a washed-up whale gave scientists the final pieces of evidence needed to make the designation

Fin whale songs are some of the loudest animals in the ocean, producing calls that can reach 189 decibels and are almost as loud as container ships.

New Research

Researchers Use Whale Calls to Probe Undersea Geology

The study finds that fin whale songs are powerful enough to reverberate through the Earth’s crust, allowing scientists to study its thickness and structure

A 38-foot male whale washed up along Sandy Key in the Florida Everglades in January 2019. Researchers have now determined that the whale is a member of a previously unknown species they've dubbed Rice's whale. A necropsy revealed a 3-inch hunk of plastic lodged in its gut that may have contributed to its demise.

New Research

Large New Whale Species Identified in the Gulf of Mexico

Named Rice’s whale, the species can reach lengths of 42 feet and lives in the Gulf’s warm waters all year

Three adult gray whales photographed via drone in 2017, 2018 and 2019 in Laguna San Ignacio off the coast of Mexico. The three shots show increasingly skinny whales, a bad sign for an animal that needs to make a 10,000-mile return trip to reach its feeding grounds.

New Research

Nearly 400 Gray Whales Have Died Off the West Coast Since 2019

Scientists say the die-off, which is entering its third year, is likely due to a scarcity of food in the animals’ cold water feeding grounds

A paleontologist excavating a 98 million-year-old fossil which may belong to the largest land animal ever. Researchers first started unearthing the creatures remains in 2012 at the Candeleros Formation in the Neuquen River Valley, Argentina.

New Research

Dinosaur Unearthed in Argentina Could Be Largest Land Animal Ever

The skeleton is still far from complete but paleontologists say what they've found suggests the dinosaur may be more than 120 feet long

The group’s identification also highlights how much of ocean life—even when it comes to the largest sea creatures—has yet to be discovered.

Scientists Eavesdrop on New Population of Blue Whales Singing in the Indian Ocean

Scientists have identified a previously unknown blue whale song, suggesting that a distinct population had long gone undetected

One specimen of the ultra-black fish species Anoplogaster cornuta.

Innovation for Good

Ten Scientific Discoveries From 2020 That May Lead to New Inventions

From soaring snakes to surfing suckerfish, nature is an endless source of inspiration

The Schmidt Ocean Institute’s submersible SuBastian, which was responsible for several discoveries in 2020, is retrieved from the water.

The Top Ten Ocean Stories of 2020

From the discovery of a giant coral reef pinnacle to a shocking estimate of plastics on the seafloor, these were the biggest marine moments of the year