A recent encounter between a human diver and a humpback whale has illustrated how concern for the safety of others can reach across species. Marine biologist Nan Hauser was on an expedition to the South Pacific’s Cook Islands to study whales for a film that she is making. But while diving with a humpback whale, her 25-tonne subject appeared to be attacking her, at least at first. But what she learned after extricating herself from the leviathan’s advances made her see the whole situation in a completely different light.
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In early 2016, 29 male sperm whales beached themselves along the shores of shores of France, Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands; with the tragic incidents occurring over a period of time totaling less than a month from January 8 to February 4. Autopsies performed on the whales found that they were all healthy, and well-nourished – offering no apparent physiological reason for the cetaceans to run themselves aground. But researchers looking into the case began to question whether or not the creatures’ navigation systems were compromised in some manner, disorienting them in a fashion that would ultimately prove to be fatal.read more

Humpback whales in the southern hemisphere have been exhibiting odd behavior over the past few years: typically a solitary species that only temporarily gathers in pods of up to a dozen individuals, groups of up to 200 whales have been gathering in spots off of the west coast of South Africa. In addition to this oddity, these whales typically aren’t found that far north in the summer, preferring feeding grounds closer to Antarctica.

Researchers are at a loss when it comes to explaining this new behavior, although one idea suggests that this is actually a normal activity, interrupted when the humpback’s numbers dropped due to over-hunting in previous centuries.
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In a growing movement around the world, an increasing number of governments are banning dolphinariums, and the capture and display of cetaceans for entertainment purposes in their countries, with many citing the inherit intelligence and sensitivity of these creatures as the reason behind these moves.

The first country to issue such a ban was Bolivia: in 2009, the government there made history by instituting the world’s first ban on the keeping of animals in circuses and other venues for public performance, of which included captive cetaceans. In the following years, similar bans were enacted by Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, India, Nicaragua, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
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