Vaquita Porpoise

Hi Kids,
As you know, 2017 is the Year of the Vaquita. WhaleTimes has been celebrating all year. If you don’t know about this  beautiful creature, it is a porpoise that is only found in the Sea of Cortez in the Gulf of California. This shy porpoise has unusual and pretty facial markings and sleek bodies.  (Read more about Vaquita)

It is amazing and heartbreaking to think that scientists didn’t even know vaquitas existed until the 1950s.  Yet today, they are the most endangered whale in the world. Less than 30 exist.

Today, scientists fear that the vaquita porpoise will become the SECOND whale species in the last decade to become extinct due to human pressures. The fear is that they will disappear forever by the year 2018. Can you even image that in two years a living creature will disappear from the face of the earth forever? Continue reading

Six-gill Shark

Hi Everyone,

Meet a gorgeous shark, the six-gill shark. This is a deep-water shark and as you can guess from the name, it has six gill slits. Those are the openings the water goes out after it passes over the gills.   Most other sharks have 5 gill slits. A couple have 7.

The six-gill shark’s relatives date back over 200 million years. It has a heavy and powerful body with a round blunt snout. A six-gill shark’s color ranges from tan, brown, gray and even to black. Six-gills grow up to 18 feet (5.5 meters) long.  That’s longer than a utility vehicle. Female six-gill sharks are larger then the males.

Another way six-gill sharks differ from other sharks is that its dorsal fin. It only has one (which isn’t unusual) but the one dorsal fin is located further back near the tail. Other dorsal fin of other sharks is usually near the center of their body (on their backs, of course).

Like the prickly shark, the six-gill might appear slow and sluggish when caught on film by an ROV or the very cool “Eye-in-the-Sea” camera. But hey, how would we look sitting on the couch texting friends or binge watching your favorite show? In between meals, a six-gill doesn’t waste energy zooming around the sea. When hunting, though, six-gills  burst into action. They ambush prey from a close range. Six-gills eat small fishes, snails, crabs, shrimp, and squid.

Because of its deep-sea lifestyle, little is know about its reproductive behavior or other behaviors.

Six-gill sharks are threatened due to being overfished and caught in nets set for other species.

See you next time,
Dudley

A Salute to Coral

Hi Kids,

A coral Polyp. (Photo courtesy NOAA. Credit Chad King)

A coral Polyp. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

After following Dr. Frank and the Science Team’s Creep into the Deep research with NOAA-OE and seeing all the amazing photos including coral, I thought it’d be fun to test your knowledge about coral.

♥♥ True or False ♥♥

Coral is a plant. True or False?

False: Coral polyps are tiny, soft-bodied organisms related to jellyfish and anemones.

Corals only live in shallow water. True or False?

A deep-sea coral

False. Though many kinds of coral do live in shallower water, many others live deep in the sea.

Some corals can live thousands of years. True or False?

True. Deep-sea corals are the old souls of the sea!

Coral that lives in shallower water gets its coloration from algae. True or False?

A Hawaiian hogfish swims through the colorful coral reef

A Hawaiian hogfish swims through the colorful coral reef

True. Colorful algae called Zooxanthellae (pronounced: zõ-zan-thell-ee) live in coral polyps. The algae creates the beautiful colors in reef building coral and provides much of the energy the coral needs. Zooxanthellae gets its energy from the sun.

 Some corals build reefs (hard rock-like structures). Some corals do not. True or False?

True. The reefs most people think of are built by each polyp. Each polyp in reef-building corals creates a protective limestone cup-like external skeleton. The polyps live in a colony. Coral colonies grow over hundreds and thousands of years and join with other colonies and become reefs. like a giant living rocky city Some reefs began over 50 million years. Cool!

Now you know a lot more about coral.

See you next time,
Dudley

News from Dudley: Tuna

Hi Kids,
The other day I met an Atlantic Bluefin tuna. I know that some humans think tuna only comes in a can but they are a fascinating and beautiful fish. Tunas have sleek, powerful bodies made for speed. They have a torpedo shaped body which helps streamline their movement through the water.

Yellowfin Tuna (Photo courtesy NOAA)

Yellowfin Tuna (Photo courtesy NOAA)

Tunas are impressive. The Atlantic bluefin can reach ten feet in length and weigh as much as 1500 pounds. That’s as much as a cow! The body shape, fins and scales enable some species of tuna to swim as fast as 43 miles per hour. A tuna will also swim incredible distances as they migrate.

Tuna is an important part of the diet of millions of people. This makes tuna one of the most commercially valuable fish. Unfortunately,  conservation and management of tuna has not evolved very quickly. That’s why some are considered “species of concern” such as the Bluefin.

Like all animals, tuna are an important part of their habitats. How can you help tuna? If you eat tuna, know where it comes from. Is it caught by sustainable methods? If not, find a tuna supplier that does. If you don’t eat seafood, of course, it is always important to reduce, reuse and recycle. And, buy locally. The more products you buy grown or produced near where you live the smaller your carbon footprint. (Find out more at NOAA’s Fish Watch Page)

A fun fact of the Bluefin tuna is that they can keep their body temperature warmer then the surrounding water. Fish are cold blooded, so this is a very cool adaptation to keep muscles warmed up so the tuna is always ready to sprint.  Boy, do I wish I could do that.

See you later,
Dudley

Ref: NOAA Fisheries

Learn more about Tuna at NOAA Fish Watch (http://www.fishwatch.gov/seafood_profiles/species/tuna/group_pages/).

 

News from Dudley: Whale sharks

Whale Shark WhaleTimes Courtesy NOAA wbsmHi Kids,

This is one of my friends, a whale shark. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea and, as you can see, also one of the most beautiful. Whale sharks grow to reach 40 feet or more! Maybe as big as 65 feet long! Their average weight is about 40,000 pounds. That’s about the weight of 10 cars!

Its white spots and pale vertical and horizontal stripes make it easy to identify. They have a flattened head with a blunt snout and a giant mouth. According to EVERYTHING SHARKS (National Geographic Kids, 2011) it’s mouth is almost as wide as a car! Wow!

Don’t worry, this gorgeous giant is only interested in eating plankton (tiny plants and animals).

Like many shark species, whale sharks need our help.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists whales sharks as vulnerable mostly due to overfishing.

See you later,

Dudley

PS. Remember to join us for Fintastic Friday: Giving Sharks a Voice on May 8, 2015 to celebrate sharks!

News from Dudley

Humpback whale WhaleTimes Courtesy NOAA wbsmHi Kids,

I’ve been out at sea and saw one of my favorite whales, the humpback whale. These giant beauties can grow up to 48 to 62.5 ft. That’s longer than a train boxcar. Humpbacks weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Though they haven’t won any Grammy awards, humpback whales are famous for their songs — a kind of vocalization that lasts for hours. Like some award winning love songs, male humpbacks might sing to attract females .

Like other baleen whales, humpbacks migrate between feeding and breeding grounds. They eat krill, a tiny shrimp-like animal, plankton and small fish. Humpbacks are also known for their acrobatics, sometimes leaping completely out of it. Wow! Scientists think they might do this to clean pests from their skin or just for fun.

See you later,

Dudley

 

News from Dudley: Electric Rays

Hi Kids,
Did you know that there are many different types of rays?

One fascinating ray is the electric ray. Electric rays get their names from their ability to generate and discharge a strong electric current. Touching one is like sticking your finger in a light socket! This stunning adaptation allows the ray to shock predators and prey.  The shock from an electric ray can knock down a full grown human. Wow, can you say shocker!

That’s all for now.  See you later.

Dudley

 

A little more about Walruses

Tusks and whiskers on a young walrus

Tusks and whiskers on a young walrus

Hi Kids,

A couple of you asked about my tusks. Handsome, aren’t they? My tusks are extra long canine teeth. Some day, they’ll be super long!

Walrus tusks can grow up to 3 feet and weigh as much as 12 pounds! That’s the weight of a small turkey! (so I’ve heard, we don’t have those in the Arctic.) Female walrus’ have tusks, too.

My tusks help determine my rank in the herd, that and my body size and how tough or aggressive I am. I also use them to pull myself out of the water, to break holes in the ice from below and to defend myself against other male walrus’ or even a polar bear.

That’s it for now. See you later.

Dudley

Dudley here!

Hi Kids,  my name’s Dudley, I’m a friend of Jake, the SeaDog™. She asked me to join the WhaleTimes Team. Walrus Courtesy  NOAA WhaleTimes websm

I’m a walrus.  I’m a big guy.  I weight about 1,700 lbs and I’m 7.25 feet long. Some of my friends are even bigger reaching 11.5 feet long.  I love to eat. My favorite food…clams. I could eat a ton of them.

Like you, I love the ocean. I will be sharing interesting stories, facts, and fun activities Jake and I discover along the way.

That’s a little about me. I’ll be stopping by WhaleTimes  to give you more about myself and about other animals of the sea.  See you later!

Dudley