Are Whales Smarter Than Humans?

During our visit to the Whale Museum, I was a little surprised to come across a display case containing preserved brains and fetuses of various organisms. The display allowed us to directly make comparisons between the brains, and it was easy to see that the brain of the fin whale was larger than that of a dolphin, which in turn was larger than that of a human being. Brains and a fetus on display at the Whale Museum The relative sizes of these brains struck me as being significant because it brings into question the claim that humankind holds, of … Continue reading Are Whales Smarter Than Humans?

A Quick and Dirty History of PCBs in the United States

For many decades in the United States, the ocean was seen as the ultimate wastebasket, where all of our wastes could be diluted and forgotten. Not for long, however, could these wastes be forgotten: Today, in the words of the magnificent Susan Thistle, we recognize pollution as one of the top two environmental problems in the world (the other being ). Thus, in this week’s fateful trip to the Whale Museum, as tempted as I was by preserved porpoise fetuses and whale parasites, it was the colorful diagram at the end describing pollution by polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, that caught … Continue reading A Quick and Dirty History of PCBs in the United States

Cyamida: The other other other cetacean health concern

Whale lice. Who’da thunk it? At the Whale Museum last Thursday, most of you probably noticed the display case containing various parasitic invertebrates that can sometimes cause whales a lot of grief. One of the species displayed was the parasitic whale barnacle Coronula diadema. These barnacle infections occur frequently and are endemic to many ceteacean’s lifestyle (i.e., humpback and greys for example). Even though they are important, let’s face it they’re not as interesting as freakin’ WHALE LICE!! What a crazy concept. I mean you see barnacles in the intertidal zone all the time. So for this entry I’ll focus … Continue reading Cyamida: The other other other cetacean health concern

Bubble Nets & Torodial Air-Core Vortex Rings

Cetaceans break my heart.  They are the fragile and failing embodiment of old earth intelligence and majesty. Ever floating, flying, falling within a deep blue salty matrix of emotional complexity: empathy, loyalty, compassion, delight, elation. Further reinforcing this mystique and sensitivity last week was the Whale Museum’s revelation of the cultural breadth and character of Orca matriline song clans and formal pod greeting ceremonies. It makes me sad. Truly. To think how singular and momentous they are and how close they have come to vanishing completely. So… in an effort to fend off the potential for waxing melencholic… I’m posting a blog on blowing bubbles! Humpback Whale Bubble Blowing Humpback whales are efficient and practical with their bubble … Continue reading Bubble Nets & Torodial Air-Core Vortex Rings