World Whales don’t spray water from their blowholes and other myths, debunked
Lobster Diver Nearly Eaten by Whale: 'I Was Completely Inside'
Michael Packard, 56, has recounted the horrifying ordeal in which the whale took him into his mouth then spat him out.Michael Packard, 56, described being taken completely into the animal's mouth before being spat out around half a minute later.
The belief thatare so large they can swallow humans alive is as old as the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. But while there have been instances of humans being engulfed in a whale’s mouth—including, most recently, —most whales are not even capable of swallowing people.
As Nicola Hodgins of the U.K. nonprofitin the wake of the latest such incident, the throats of most whales are too small to swallow something as big as a human. For example, a humpback whale’s mouth can reach up to but its throat can . Only the sperm whale has a large enough throat to accommodate human-sized prey—but given that it lives in deep, offshore waters, this species is unlikely to ever encounter a person, let alone swallow one. ( )
Maine's having a lobster boom. A bust may be coming.
With warmer waters, the Gulf of Maine’s famous crustaceans are flourishing—for now.These cold-water-loving, bottom-feeding crustaceans are top of mind for many Mainers too, including Monique Coombs. She’s the director of community programs for the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, in Brunswick. She’s also the wife of Maine lobsterman, Herman Coombs, and the mother of 16-year-old Joceylne, who’s going into the family trade. Homarus americanus—the American lobster—is what keeps bread on the Coombs’ table.
This is just one of many misconceptions about whales that can be disproven by science. People are commonly surprised when they hear that not all whales can sing. These animals also can’t breathe underwater, and they don’t actually spray water from their blowholes. So we’re setting the record straight and busting the most common myths about these marine mammals.
Whales have hair
Although they don’t look furry, whales do have, Hodgins says, explaining that some whales and are born with what look like whiskers on their beaks. These whiskers quickly disappear because the animals have “absolutely no use” for hair to keep warm underwater. Although these whiskers are only visible in some species, the possession of hair follicles is an evolutionary trait that can be seen in all species, including humpback and blue whales.
'All the water's bad': In McDowell County, you have to get creative to find safe drinking water
To get drinking water, Burlyn Cooper and his neighbors have to collect runoff from the rock face of a mountain. It’s contaminated, but it’s all they have."I've got so used to it, I wouldn't know how to act, to turn the faucet on and have good water," he said. "I can't imagine it.
That’s because whales are—not —meaning they have hair, are and, rather than laying eggs, they give birth to live young that the mother nurses with her milk. ( .)
Whales can’t breathe underwater
As mammals, whales also “havejust like we do and breathe air like we do,” says Emily Cunningham, a marine biologist and trustee at . She adds that people often “think that are a kind of fish—and that's not true at all.”
Whereas humans breathe through their nose and mouth, whales have a blowhole on the top of their head—or two in the case of baleen whales. This is “like a nostril,” says Cunningham. While it’s not the same as the human nose, this is where they breathe in and out.
Whales’ breathing is “very efficient,” adds Pippa Garrard, the’s education manager, and they have “conscious control” over their breathing and heart rate. Being able to regulate their oxygen levels is particularly important for deep-diving species. Once underwater, “they can then slow down their heart rate, and shunt the oxygenated blood to the areas that they need”—including their .
'Irresponsible use of our water': Drought-stricken cities question value of data centers
As cash-strapped cities welcome Big Tech to build hundreds of million-dollar data centers in their backyards, critics question the environmental cost.But keeping the rows of powerful computers inside the data center from overheating will require up to 1.25 million gallons of water each day, a price that Vice Mayor Jenn Duff believes is too high.“This has been the driest 12 months in 126 years,” she said, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We are on red alert, and I think data centers are an irresponsible use of our water.
How long whales can hold their breath underwater depends on the species:, and
Whales expel air—not water—from their blowholes
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When a whale surfaces after this impressive breath hold, Garrard says the tell-tale noise you hear “is them breathing out” before they inhale and dive back underwater. Often depicted in cartoons as a spout of water, she clarifies that “what we’re actually seeing is the whale’s breath.” As warm air from the whale’s lungs meets cold air outside, it condenses into a cloud, like seeing your breath on a cold day. This cloud also includes mucus and droplets of seawater that were covering the blowhole when the whale exhaled.
Scientists can learn a lot from a whale’s. “Lots of species spend around 95 percent of their life underwater, and we’d probably never get to see them if it wasn't for the fact that they have to come out to breathe,” Cunningham says. Scientists use special drones equipped with petri dishes to fly over exhaling whales and capture mucus samples without disturbing the animals. This enables researchers to “find out about their health, stress levels, presence of pollutants, and all kinds of cool stuff.” Scientists can also identify the whales by the shape of their spout.
Drone Footage Reveals Secret Social Lives of Killer Whales
Stunning aerial footage of a pod of killer whales is helping researchers uncover the predators' secret social lives, watching them pick and choose friends and become less sociable as they grow old. © Center for Whale Research-University of Exeter/Zenger News A new study that used drones to film killer whales discovered that they have complex social structures including close friendships.
The misconception that water comes out of a whale’s blowhole can be harmful when well-meaning members of the public do the wrong thing when trying to rescue a stranded whale. Dan Jarvis of thedescribes instances of people finding a stranded whale and “pouring water directly into the blowhole thinking it's a fish and it needs to be filled up with water.” Sadly, they have unintentionally killed the animal as a result.
Not all whales sing
Most people are familiar with whale song: the sequence of predictable and sometimes complex sounds that can travel for. But it’s not widely known that not all whales sing.
Whale song is documented in baleen whales, such as, , , and . How they produce these noises is a mystery because they
But while toothed whales, including sperm whales, pilot whales, and, use sound for —at more than 200 decibels, a sperm whale’s clicks are so loud ( .)
Also, only male baleen whales sing, says Laela Sayigh, a research specialist atand professor at . She explains that there are “a huge variety of ‘non-song calls,’ which both sexes make” but females are not known to produce whale song. Why the males sing is debated, Sayigh adds, but it is it is widely believed to be a reproductive display “to either compete with other males or attract females.”
Whales don’t spray water from their blowholes and other myths, debunked
Whales don’t spray water from their blowholes and other myths, debunkedAs Nicola Hodgins of the U.K. nonprofit Whale and Dolphin Conservation told National Geographic in the wake of the latest such incident, the throats of most whales are too small to swallow something as big as a human. For example, a humpback whale’s mouth can reach up to 10 feet but its throat can only stretch to about 15 inches in diameter. Only the sperm whale has a large enough throat to accommodate human-sized prey—but given that it lives in deep, offshore waters, this species is unlikely to ever encounter a person, let alone swallow one. (Humpback whales can't swallow a human. Here's why.
Males. Different populations have different songs, which , allowing researchers to identify specific populations: for example, . ( .)
Whale sharks are not a type of whale
There are aroundwith new species still being discovered—recently, a third species of was identified in the North Pacific in 2019, and the .
However, some so-called whales aren’t whales at all.grow as large as a whale—the largest recorded was , measuring long—but Stella Diamant, founder of the , explains they “are actually a true shark.”
Unlike whales, sharks are a type of fish. This means they are cold-blooded, have gills, and their skeleton is made from cartilage—like our ears and nose—rather than bone. A handy way to tell the difference is that a.
In Madagascar’s waters, this difference can have serious repercussions. While, are not. The country’s existing marine protected areas and conservationists are calling for formal measures to better preserve this endangered species as well as other sharks and rays.
“Madagascar is anfor these gentle giants so it’s vital whale sharks are granted protections in the same way whales are—for the survival of the species as well as the local communities that rely on marine ecotourism,” Diamant says.
Whales—and—are vital to a healthy marine ecosystem. Whales while sharks, as top predators, keep prey species in check to ensure . With so much , it’s vital to dispel misconceptions so people around the world understand how to keep the entire ecosystem safe and healthy for future generations.
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