Bowhead whales between Svalbard and Greenland sing various songs “free jazz” style

Bowhead whales are true Arctic whales and spend a lot of time around the floe edge to feed on fish. With their thick and protected tip of their upper jaw, they can even break ice and create their own breathing holes. Credit: Heiner Kubny

Singing whales? Forget the humpback and spot on to bowhead whales. The longest living marine mammal in the world has a broad range of vocalizations, or songs, at least the ones in the Fram Strait between Svalbard and Greenland. A study published by scientists from the University of Washington has come to this conclusion after eavesdropping on bowhead whales for four years.

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Ocean winds influence seal pup migration

Native American fishermen in Alaska have known that seal pups go with the wind rather than struggle against it. A new research study confirms that. Migrating northern fur seal pups travel hundreds of kilometres farther in blustery years than in calmer years. (Credit: Eric Boerner, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries Service)

Scientists have confirmed what native Alaskans have observed for centuries - winds influence the travel patterns of northern fur seal pups. New research shows that strong winds can displace seal pups by hundreds of kilometres during their first winter migration.

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Belugas change feeding behavior in a changing Arctic

Beluga whales spend their foraging times along the sea ice edge or in fjords near glaciers to find fish, crustaceans, and other marine organisms. Credit: Michael Wenger

The changes faced by Arctic animals due to the global warming are huge. Loss of sea ice, increasing temperatures, invading species, and dietary changes pose a considerable threat to the iconic polar bear and other marine mammals like beluga whales. This high Arctic whale species spends its summers foraging the Arctic Ocean. Now they have to dive deeper and longer to find food compared to earlier years according to a new study by scientists from the University of Washington.

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Narwhals both freeze and flee while escaping

Narwhals are very elusive and mysterious marine mammals. Scientists only know little about their lifestyles and behaviors due to their geographical range. As true ice loving mammals, narwhals spend most of their time around the edge of the Arctic pack ice. Only in certain times, they swim along shorelines. Now, a team of researchers has found an astonishing and seemingly contradictive behavior. When escaping from humans, narwhals don’t just freeze or flee. They do both.

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Moulting bowhead whales in Nunavut

Bowhead whales are one of the most elusive and mysterious whale species in the Arctic, despite its size. Hunted almost to extinction, these huge baleen whales have made a tremendous comeback and are found now in many Arctic areas close to the ice edge. Now, researcher from the University of British Columbia have found a new and surprising behavior of bowheads in Nunavut, Canada.

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Belugas move from halibut to capelin in warming waters

Climate change seems to be driving a tiny fish species northward as Arctic waters grow warmer thanks to climate change — and they're getting gobbled up by whales that would normally find larger fish more tantalizing. But not only whales are after that tiny prey, also fish that used to be on the whale’s menu profit from the new resource.

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Svalbard reindeer is doing well

The Norwegian Polar Institute counted 1374 Svalbard reindeer in the Adventdalen around Longyearbyen this year. Many calves were observed and only a few dead reindeer found. This is a trend that has been observed for years: The reindeer population has been growing slightly in this region for years.

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First footage on feeding behavior of narwhals in Canada

Narwhals are amongst the most mysterious marine mammals known. Although the species has been known for centuries and has been exploited by humans, only little is known about their ecology. Especially the tusk has spurred human fantasy. Now, Canadian fisheries researchers were able to show by video footage for the very first time that narwhal bulls use their tusks for fishing.

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Gene flow between bear species is easier than expected

The mixing or hybridization between polar and brown bears appears to be easier than previously expected. Senckenberg scientists have sequenced the entire genomes of four bear species, making it now possible to analyze the evolutionary history of all bears at the genome level. It shows that gene flow, or gene exchange, between species by extensive hybridization, is possible between most bear species - not only polar and brown bear. The DNA samples of different bear species came from different European zoos, underlining their importance not only for conservation, but also for research. The study published today in "Nature Scientific Reports" also questions the existing species concept in general, because other genome studies too have, frequently found gene flow among species.

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Leap of faith: Why guillemot chicks take their jumps

Being a young guillemot chick is quite hard. Growing up on a small ledge on high cliffs in the Arctic, surrounded by thousands of birds, being prey for gulls, foxes and even polar bears is quite stressful. But even worse, the little ones have to jump down into the water before their wings can support them for flight. This behavior has puzzled scientists for a long time. Now, an answer may have been found.

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