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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

Canaries of the Sea

Beluga whales are known as the “canaries of the sea,” a nickname granted by the high-frequency, sometimes bird-like squawks, chirps, whistles, and trills they make.  Researchers have descriptions of beluga sounds ranging from “rusty gate hinges” to children shouting.  Belugas can change the shape of their melon (the organ used for echolocation) by moving air around in their sinuses, which helps them produce their vast repertoire of sounds.  They start vocalizing within hours of being born and are among the most verbal of all whales, using sound for echolocation, hunting, mating, and communication.

 

In captivity, the high-frequency chirps, whistles, and other sounds made by belugas bounce off the concrete walls of their tanks, and the noise of living on land can cause hearing problems in many captive individuals.  The click-trains of echolocation often fall silent in captive whales, their tanks being nothing but an empty hall of echoes.  Echolocation is no longer needed to find food or pilot through estuaries and river mouths.  In captivity, belugas are quieter, while the ambient noise around them is louder and more constant.

 

This week, please help WDC ask Clear Channel to support the freedom of these canaries of the sea to keep singing in the wild.  Send an email and tell them: “iHeartWhales! Clear Channel, include belugas in your philanthropy projects.  Say NO to sponsoring the Georgia Aquarium! Wild Russian belugas shouldn’t be captive in US tanks!

 

Thank you for helping keep belugas singing, safe, and free. Check back next week for a new beluga fact & another action alert!