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Thread started 03/17/17 6:37pm

purplethunder3
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Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why

Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why

It flies in the face of typical humpback behavior

By Sara Chodosh March 15, 2017
journal.pone_.0172002.g002.png?itok=qIVHtMtW&fc=50,50

Jean Tresfon/PLOSone

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The humpback's scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, literally means "big-winged New Englander." They can use their "big wings" to maneuver backwards, though they have no beeping sound to warn other animals that they're putting it in reverse.

The world is ending and only the whales know. At least, that’s one explanation. Humpback whales are normally pretty solitary—scientists used to call groups of 10 to 20 “large.” Now they’re congregating in groups of 20 to 200 off the coast of South Africa. Something is definitely going on here, but so far experts are stumped.

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In fact, Humpback whales aren't supposed to be hanging out in that region in the first place. Humpbacks migrate up to tropical waters to breed, but they typically feed down south in the icy waters of Antarctica this time of year. Yet scientific expeditions keep seeing these super-pods (not to be confused with super PACs, which are equally giant but much more dangerous), which were finally compiled and published at the beginning of March in the journal PLOSone. The researchers have a few ideas about why the humpbacks are organizing, but no clear answers yet. So far the consensus seems to be: this is pretty freakin’ weird.

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Most of the whales seem to be young, begging the question of whether the western coast of South Africa is like the humpback version of the local mall for tween whales. They’re just looking for a fishy Orange Julius, or perhaps a krill-based Panda Express to hang out at on a Saturday afternoon. Because it’s not like 200 whales—each weighing about 65,000 pounds—can feed just anywhere.

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Congregations of whales usually indicate parts of the ocean that are especially productive. There has to be a dense concentration of prey to support that many humpbacks. And yes, the word “prey” might sound strange for a species known for singing songs and being friendly to other mammals. Lest we forget, humpback whales do hunt for their food. They’re not vegetarians. They eat everything from krill to plankton to small fish, regardless of whether they speak whale. They even have a specialized way of hunting where they gang up on schools of fish to try to eat them all at once. It’s called bubble net feeding. The humpbacks divide up, some swirling around a group of fish and some blowing air, such that the circling whales can drive their victims into a net made of bubbles. This confuses the fish, trapping them inside, until one whale sounds the call and they all rush in, mouths agape, swimming upwards through the teeming mass of fish.

Since they spend a lot of time alone, humpbacks can perform a similar maneuver on their own. And some humpbacks don’t even know how to bubble net feed. It’s not intrinsic—it’s a learned behavior. Some pods know how to do it and some don’t. Dolphins have a similar hunting pattern where they squeeze groups of fish into a small area, then take turns darting through to feed. And hey, humpbacks have been known to swim around and interact ...e dolphins, so maybe there’s some big information exchange going on in the seas that we’re unaware of.

5019925885_8af3886bee_o.jpg?itok=Xk09Pdwl&fc=50,50

NOAA

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These enormous whale congregations are clearly for feeding, at least in part, but no one is really sure why there are so many of them. It seems to be a recent phenomenon unique to the last five years or so, so it could be that burgeoning whale populations are enabling these teeming masses yearning to breath free. At one point about 90 percent of the world’s humpbacks had been hunted down, but they've been on the rise since becoming a protected species in 1996. Maybe humpbacks were always this social, and there just weren’t enough of them for us to notice.

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Or maybe they just weren’t doing it in areas where we could see them. If hundreds of whales were gathering smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we probably wouldn't see or hear them (even though their songs can be heard from 20 miles away). And if a whale sings in the ocean and there’s no one there to hear it, it definitely still made a sound.

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Perhaps they’re trying to tell us something, Like the dolphins who do a double-backward somersa...led Banner, the whales may be sending us a message that we’re misinterpreting as an adorably sophisticated trick. The oceans are warming, the seas are rising, and maybe—just maybe—the whales have had enough. They’ve gathered as many young humpbacks as possible to come together and send one final message: so long, and thanks for all the krill. Or maybe they're talking ...pace probe. Who knows.

nothing's forbidden... and nothing's taboo.
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Reply #1 posted 03/17/17 6:47pm

morningsong

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I'm getting that Stargate Atlantis feel.

“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
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Reply #2 posted 03/17/17 6:48pm

morningsong

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Turns out they're catching up on the lastest gossip.

“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
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Reply #3 posted 03/17/17 7:29pm

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morningsong said:

Turns out they're catching up on the lastest gossip.

lol lol lol

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Reply #4 posted 03/17/17 7:55pm

purplethunder3
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morningsong said:

I'm getting that Stargate Atlantis feel.

They're plotting their revenge on humankind...

nothing's forbidden... and nothing's taboo.
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Reply #5 posted 03/17/17 8:10pm

morningsong

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purplethunder3121 said:



morningsong said:


I'm getting that Stargate Atlantis feel.



They're plotting their revenge on humankind...




Naw, they're warning us something big is happening and we better get ready, and they save us and themselves.

Or at least that's how it worked on Atlantis.
“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
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Reply #6 posted 03/17/17 8:14pm

KingBAD

Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why

eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek

ummmmmmmmmmm... they do and really, isn't that all that matters???

lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

i am KING BAD!!!
you are NOT...
evilking
"KingBAD, well you are just a troll" (an emotional fan)
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Reply #7 posted 03/17/17 9:25pm

XxAxX

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morningsong said:

Turns out they're catching up on the lastest gossip.

book club re: Mayte's book eek smile wink

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Reply #8 posted 03/17/17 9:27pm

XxAxX

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that's really interesting. i hadn't heard about this congregation. i wonder if there is one of those documentaries called "a spy in the pod" where they send a fake whale drone into the pod and film their interaction. (the one with dolphins is fantastic, even though the dolphin drone is clearly a fake and the dolphins know it) i'm going to check it out on Netflix....

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Reply #9 posted 03/17/17 9:47pm

purplethunder3
121

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morningsong said:

purplethunder3121 said:

They're plotting their revenge on humankind...

Naw, they're warning us something big is happening and we better get ready, and they save us and themselves. Or at least that's how it worked on Atlantis.

I like that scenario better. lol

nothing's forbidden... and nothing's taboo.
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Reply #10 posted 03/17/17 9:47pm

purplethunder3
121

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XxAxX said:

morningsong said:

Turns out they're catching up on the lastest gossip.

book club re: Mayte's book eek smile wink

lol

nothing's forbidden... and nothing's taboo.
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Reply #11 posted 03/17/17 10:01pm

purplethunder3
121

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KingBAD said:

Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why

eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek

ummmmmmmmmmm... they do and really, isn't that all that matters???

lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

They're probably talking about you! lol

nothing's forbidden... and nothing's taboo.
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Reply #12 posted 03/17/17 10:53pm

morningsong

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XxAxX said:



morningsong said:


Turns out they're catching up on the lastest gossip.



book club re: Mayte's book eek smile wink




HA! lol
“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #13 posted 03/17/17 11:13pm

KingBAD

purplethunder3121 said:

KingBAD said:

Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why

eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek

ummmmmmmmmmm... they do and really, isn't that all that matters???

lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

They're probably talking about you! lol

nah, we straight...

they kinda keep my name

out they mouth since the incident...

lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol

i am KING BAD!!!
you are NOT...
evilking
"KingBAD, well you are just a troll" (an emotional fan)
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Reply #14 posted 03/17/17 11:18pm

morningsong

avatar

KingBAD said:



purplethunder3121 said:




KingBAD said:


Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why


eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek eek


ummmmm... they do and really, isn't that all that matters???


lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol



They're probably talking about you! lol



nah, we straight...


they kinda keep my name


out they mouth since the incident...


lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol


Sounds interesting.

:popcorn:
“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #15 posted 03/18/17 12:49am

AlfofMelmak

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As long it's not the dolphins, I'm okay. Otherwise, get your towel ready !

(let's see who catches that reference...)

You don't scare me; i got kids
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Reply #16 posted 03/18/17 9:00am

CharlieGriffin

They're protesting the Donald.

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Reply #17 posted 03/18/17 9:08am

Guitarhero

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They are having a meeting . Seems normal to me.

Love4OneAnother heart

Love 4 my fellow man and woman, fellow human.
Sick of the divide of race and gender.
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Reply #18 posted 03/19/17 11:05pm

morningsong

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Humpback whales could be the superheroes of the oceans
“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
Reply #19 posted 03/20/17 1:56am

morningsong

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“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
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Reply #20 posted 03/23/17 7:14pm

TMPletz

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Maybe after all these years they finally realized that George & Gracie went missing. Can someone tell them that they'll eventually turn up in the 23rd century? wink

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Reply #21 posted 03/23/17 8:48pm

morningsong

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TMPletz said:

Maybe after all these years they finally realized that George & Gracie went missing. Can someone tell them that they'll eventually turn up in the 23rd century? wink




:falloff:
“Do I dare Disturb the universe?”
― T.S. Eliot

“Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it”
― T.S. Eliot
  - E-mail - orgNote - Report post to moderator
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