Morgan’s Extended Family has been Identified Accoustically
- 92% of the calls made by Morgan were matched to a Norwegian orca group.
- Only 0.3% of call-types were not matched to either NP or P pod.
- At least seven additional groups were matched to at least five call types.
- Morgan’s acoustic repertoire may be limited because of her confinement in a concrete barren tank and due to her young age.
- There are only extremely limited field research projects being currently conducted on Norwegian orca and further research is clearly needed.
- It is possible that the two ‘non-matched’ calls are ‘contact’ or ‘distress’ calls. Such calls would not necessarily be recorded from orca which are safely in the context of their social groups.
- Play-back of Morgan’s calls to wild orca, or wild orca calls to Morgan, has not been conducted and may provide additional information and call-types.
- 77.7% of Morgan’s call types (seven of nine) were matched to P pod.
- Only one hour of recordings of P pod were used to match these 77.7% call types.
- Not all members of P pod have been photographically identified, therefore it is not possible to ascertain if they have been present or not in Norwegian waters.
- 57% of Morgan’s call types (four of nine) were matched to NP pod (with AA+BI).
Morgan’s loss is Loro Parque’s gain. Sadly, the Dutch High Courts DENIED Morgan her freedom, once again. This is unfair to her. A beautiful young orca, whose life was never suppose to be subjected to being imprisoned. Prisoned amongst other orcas, who constantly bang her, rake their teeth on her flesh, and where a sexual mature male constantly sexually harrasses her. She’s not ready to breed, yet she will be and probably soon. Her bloodline is fresh…for now.
All the work that Dr. Ingrid Visser, and countless others, went into to help her, gone. All we can do is support her and the others, as well as Morgan as best as we can. Because at least they fought for her, they tried so hard. We can just say Thank-you, and that our hearts break along with theirs and Morgan’s.
wtf is happens in Marineland?
Ummmm, no it’s not. Babies are well cared for by the entire pod in the wild, not attempted to mate with. This is sick, and really sad that the social systems in captivity are so messed up that things like this happen.
Just yet another example of the ways that being captive messes with these animals’ minds.
This image is so disturbing!!!! This would NEVER happen in the wild.
Researchers identified a core skin bacterial community that humpback whales share across populations, which could point to a way to assess the overall health of these endangered marine mammals.
The research team sequenced and identified over 500,000 small-subunit ribosomal RNA genes from bacteria obtained from humpback whale skin and also compared the data to bacterial sequences found on the skin of deceased whales and whales with injuries and compromised health, such as those entangled in fishing line.
Analysis of skin samples revealed an abundance of two core groups of bacteria specific to humpbacks—Tenacibaculum and Psychrobacter. The overall composition of the bacteria differed by geographical location and metabolic state, as well as in stressed and deceased individuals. In stressed and deceased whales, researchers found less of the two core bacteria and more potential pathogens present.
Picture and text by Maddalena Bearzi
1. Dolphins are large-brained, cognitive animals
If we consider ourselves as being at the pinnacle of intelligence, dolphins would come just after us, scoring even better than their great ape cousins. Looking at the Encephalization Quotient, which represents a measure of relative brain size and a rough estimate of the intelligence of an animal, dolphins possess a high EQ due to their unusually large brain-to-body- size ratios.
The last two decades have seen the proliferation of anatomical and morphological investigations on cetaceans. Neuroanatomical studies of their brains have shown that dolphins possess an intricate and developed neocortex as compared to other species, including humans, and a distinctive folding of the cerebral cortex, which in cetaceans is even more prominent than in primates.
Why is this important? Because, simply stated, these structures are both associated with complex information processing. Dolphins also have spindle-shaped neurons, or von Economoneurons, which are key for social cognition and have been linked in humans to an ability to “sense” what others are thinking.
There is no doubt that intelligence is difficult to define and when we look into the animal world, almost any animal may be considered “smart” depending on what definition of intelligence we decide to apply. I can make a great case for any of my dogs… But only in a few species like dolphins, great apes, and humans, do we find brain complexity, social complexity, and ecological complexity closely linked, at least for now… (See: “Schoolchildren and Musicians Boycott SeaWorld in ‘Blackfish’ Flap.”)
2. Dolphins live in complex societies in the open ocean
We have established that dolphins have large and complex brains, but what is all this brain capacity good for? This brain has allowed dolphins to develop complex and fluid societies in which they can flourish against the backdrop of a challenging, three-dimensional liquid environment.
Cetaceans such as the bottlenose dolphin (the most common species found in aquaria and marine parks today) have flexible and remarkable social and communication skills. They live in social networks characterized by highly differentiated relationships that often rely on precise memory of who owes whom a favor and who is a true friend. They engage in cooperative hunting and they partition resources such that prey is shared throughout the social group.
In some dolphin populations, males form coalitions in order to sexually coerce females or defeat other male coalitions. They care for each other; mothers and calves have long-term strong social bonds and a calf can spend up to two years next to its mother learning its place in the ocean. Dolphins play, bond, imitate, learn from each other and transfer information from generation to generation.
This ability to transfer learned behaviors to their progeny makes them cultural animals like us. And like us, they can recognize themselves as individuals and are self-aware, even if the extent of dolphin self-awareness still remains to be explored.
At sea, dolphins are always on the move, often traveling hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles. Their large brains likely help them to succeed in foraging on widely scattered and temporarily available resources. Dolphins, like some other animals, are essentially complex social mammals that need expansive space to live in. A tank can’t even begin to address these needs…
3. Dolphins have emotions (and personalities)
We like to think of dolphins as happy animals with an omnipresent smile frolicking in the sea. We tend to anthropomorphize them, projecting our own attributes on them. But what we think is the blissful face of a dolphin can obscure the animal’s true feeling, especially when we keep them confined. Let’s not forget that dolphins also die smiling!
Dolphins, like us, have a limbic system and are able to experience a broad spectrum of emotions including joy, grief, frustration, anger, and love. Put a dolphin in an MRI scanner and you will see a large brain structure that allows for complex emotions. Looking closer at a dolphin’s brain, once again, you will find those specializedvon Economoneurons that in humans are linked to intuition and empathy.
But brains and neurons aside, it’s spending time in company of these animals in the wild that will really make a case for them as emotional beings with diverse personalities. Anyone who has witnessed the compassion of a dolphin mother in taking care of her calf, an individual helping a companion in distress, or a dolphin grieving for hours, even days for the death of a next of kin, can’t deny these animals have emotions.
Like intelligence, conscious emotion in these ocean-dwellers is difficult to understand, define, and measure. For comparison, just reflect upon how difficult it is to know what we ourselves are thinking or feeling at any given moment…
Now, let’s try something different. Let’s ignore all the scientific studies orwhat we currently know about dolphins. Let’s also disregard the three above-mentioned assertions why keeping these animals in captivity is fundamentally wrong, and let’s instead concentrate on debunking the favorite pro-captivity arguments: research, education, and conservation.
- Read more at News Watch Nat Geo
- Maddalena Bearzi has studied the ecology and conservation of marine mammals for over twenty-five years. She is President and Co-founder of the Ocean Conservation Society, and Co-author of Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins (Harvard University Press, 2008). She also works as a photo-journalist and blogger for several publications. Her most recent book is Dolphin Confidential: Confessions of a Field Biologist (Chicago University Press, 2012).
Thank you for the kind words! Every day is making progress and educating the public on these important issues. #SpreadtheWord
I’ve decided to put together a small anti-captivity giveaway as I’m in a good mood and all that :).
So here’s what you need to know:
If you end up being the lucky winner you can choose one of the following (depending on prices at the competition end I may even be able to combine some of the prizes):
- To have an orca of your choice adopted through The Whale Museum.
- A copy of David Kirby’s book, Death at SeaWorld.
- A DVD copy of Blackfish .
- A DVD copy of The Cove.
Incase the winner chooses the DVD option I will purchase the prizes after a winner has been announced (just to make sure the DVD bought is for the correct region) and all prizes will be shipped directly to you after purchase - wherever you may be :).
** In order to be in with a chance of winning you must be following my anti-captivity blog Captivity Kills and have reblogged this post. **
You can reblog/enter as many times as you’d like and a winner will be announced (using a random generator) on May 24th 2014 - the same day as Empty The Tanks Worldwide.
Here is a quick summary from Wikipedia on captive Beluga Whales:
"As of 2006, 30 belugas were in Canada and 28 in the United States, and 42 deaths in captivity had been reported up to that time. A single specimen can reportedly fetch up to US$100,000 on the market. Its popularity with visitors reflects its attractive colour and its range of facial expressions. The latter is possible because while most cetacean “smiles” are fixed, the extra movement afforded by the beluga’s unfused cervical vertebrae allows a greater range of apparent expression.
Most belugas found in aquaria are caught in the wild, as captive-breeding programs have not had much success so far. For example, despite best efforts, as of 2010, only two male whales had been successfully used as stud animals in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) beluga population, Nanuq at SeaWorld San Diego and Naluark at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, USA. Nanuq has fathered 10 calves, five of which survived birth. Naluark at Shedd Aquarium has fathered four living offspring. Naluark has been relocated to Mystic Aquarium in the hope that he will breed with two of their females. The first beluga calf born in captivity in Europe was born in L’Oceanogràfic marine park in Valencia, Spain in November 2006. However, the calf died after 25 days after suffering metabolic complications, infections and from not being able to feed properly.”
Full description can be found on Wikipedia.
We must not forget about the other cetaceans that are also suffering in captivity! The description about the number of individuals that do not live after an X amount of days or birth is starting to sound like the Killer Whale captivity problem. I do not believe Wikipedia is the most reliable source, but it is very useful for quick summaries and information spread over a wide range. I like that the article is very clear on the misinterpretation of the “smile” expression on the Beluga whale and quickly states why it appears the animal is smiling, leaving for the reader to conclude the “smile” does not necessarily mean the animal is happy.
Always spread the word!