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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...

Well, “eel” be damned …

Finding out more about the behaviour of whales, dolphins and porpoises can be a tricky business but researchers in Denmark have inadvertently discovered a new technique and all by accident.

Scientists studying the oceanic migration behaviour of eels implanted tags that would record both temperature and depth into adult eels released on the Atlantic coasts of France and Ireland. Quite unexpectedly, for three of the tags there was a dramatic rise in temperature from 10°C to 36°C and the depth data recorded showed frequent dives to depths of around 800m, indicating that the tagged eels had been eaten by something with a penchant for eel.

Two of the tags had sufficient data to provide even more information. Between them, they recorded a total of 91 dives to maximum depths of 250-860m lasting 11-12 minutes and with surface intervals of 5-7 minutes. In addition, more than two thirds of the dives included a rapid descent from approximately 500m to 600-700m.

This additional information allowed the scientists to conclude that the eel-eating predator was most likely a deep-diving toothed whale – perhaps a sperm whale or a Cuvier’s beaked whale to name but a few.