Archive for Killer Whale
www.bbc.co.uk 23rd April 2012
A group of Russian scientists on a research expedition off the coast of Kamchatka have spotted a white killer whale, or orca, for the first time in the wild. The adult has a dorsal fin of over two metres, indicating he is a mature male of over 16, and seems to be living a normal life with his pod. Other white orcas have been known but they have all been juveniles. The expedition was led by a senior research fellow with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society , Erich Hoyt, who nicknamed the orca ‘Iceberg’. The researchers are reluctant to take a biopsy of Iceberg to find out the cause of the pigmentation, particularly as he seems to be fully socialised. “We know that these fish-eating orcas stay with their mothers for life, and as far as we can see he’s right behind his mother with presumably his brothers next to him,” said Dr Hoyt. Another white orca, a young captive called Chima that died in a Canadian aquarium in 1972, suffered from Chediak-Higashi syndrome, a genetic condition that causes partial albinism as well as a number of medical complications.
www.independent.co.uk 27th May 2011
A small island just 600 km away from the Antarctic Peninsula has been comprehensively studied for the first time by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Previously thought to be an “inhospitable lump of rock”, the island of South Georgia has now shown scientists (the only human inhabitants on the isle) the opposite. The survey recorded 1,445 species, many of which are unique to the island. Species include sea spiders, free-swimming worms, fish, and crustaceans. Many types of whale frequent the waters there including the blue, sperm, and killer. It is also the most important nesting ground for the King Penguin. In fact, divers from the BAS found so many types of sea-life in South Georgian waters that they still haven’t worked through all the samples. The rich biodiversity of the region has been put down to several factors including the remoteness of the island and lack of human contact. Its position beside currents that are rich in nutrients also helps sustain the diverse wildlife. Oliver Hogg, a marine ecologist with the BAS, said: “One of the reasons it’s so rich is, we suspect, that it’s a really old island. It separated from the continental land mass of South America and Antarctica about 45 million years ago so it’s had a lot of time to evolve new species and develop a really diverse ecosystem.” Warming waters though, at least in part explainable by climate change, may have a negative impact on the island’s inhabitants. ‘In the period 1925 to 2006 sea temperatures in the region rose on average by 0.9C in January and 2.3C in August in the 100 metres of water nearest the surface.’ South Georgia has been in British hands since 1775 when Captain James Cook laid claim to it, although it was briefly taken by Argentina in 1982 during the Fauklands war.