Archive for Whales

Listening to Sperm Whale Sonar By Carl Safina

Dolphins, Whales on December 12th, 2013 1 Comment

Amazing. A few years ago in the Gulf of California, we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of female sperm whales sleeping peacefully like massive logs in a calm sea. One, followed closely by a seemingly protective companion, had a baby so new that it still trailed an umbilical cord as it swam with tail […]

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What Are Killer Whales Saying?

Whales on November 11th, 2013 No Comments

People who are listening to the killer whale calls in my previous posting are asking whether we have any idea yet of the meaning. Answer: not as language, but we do know some things. What we don’t know: We don’t know if they have words or language. We think they have signature calls (names) and […]

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Whale Whisperer Don Pachico Mayoral is Gone

Whales on November 3rd, 2013 1 Comment

Don Pachico Mayoral, the first man to make physical contact and develop friendly relationships with some of the gray whales of Baja, Mexico, is gone.  A stroke took him on Tuesday, October 22, 2013. He was 72.  I met Don Pachico on the shore of San Ignacio Lagoon a couple of years ago while filming […]

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Killer Whale Calls

Mystery and Grace, Travels, Whales on October 22nd, 2013 6 Comments

The following audio was recorded in early October in Haro Straight off San Juan Island in Washington.  There were about 20 whales or so – if you close your eyes, you can picture the backdrop of a jungle just as easily as the ocean. A hydrophone was used to capture the sounds, and although it […]

Killer Whales in Washington State: Serial Problems By Carl Safina

Salmon, Whales on October 5th, 2013 5 Comments

We were just chatting in Ken Balcomb’s kitchen when out of the computer speakers’ white-noise static came a single whistle that stopped all conversation. They were coming! Moments later the kitchen was full of squeals, squeaks, whoops, buzzes—. At the windows with our binoculars, we confirmed that a familiar group of “resident” or fish-eating killer […]

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Kitchen Killer Whales By Carl Safina

Whales on October 3rd, 2013 3 Comments

I was just standing on researcher Ken Balcomb’s kitchen porch looking out at Haro Strait, from Washington toward Vancouver Island, Canada, watching killer whales going by. Cool enough, but these were not the usual “residents” who hunt salmon. They were “transients;” mammal eaters. One way we knew: We’d been listening to the nearby hydrophones set […]

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They Left Us—Bones

Whales on June 11th, 2012 2 Comments

In the Arctic north of Norway, the beach at Gåshamna, Svalbard is strewn with the debris of old whalers, and the bigger-than-dinosaur bones of the great whales. We pick our footing carefully around the wood and iron, around the shacks. We don’t want to damage the ruins. We walk around whale jawbones the size of […]

Day 1; Laguna San Ignacio

PBS Television Show: "Saving the Ocean", Whales on March 23rd, 2012 2 Comments

Shortly after breakfasting in a sand-floored adobe dining hall whose thick walls are made of old car tires, we boarded 2 outboard-powered open boats called pangas.  Our boats were captained by Pachico Mayoral and his son Jesus, who started guiding visitors to the whales here when he was 14 (pachicosecotours.com). Pachico told us that after […]

Arrival in Baja for “Saving the Ocean”

PBS Television Show: "Saving the Ocean", Whales on March 22nd, 2012 2 Comments

Our PBS television series Saving the Ocean has brought me to the best place I’ve ever awoken on St. Patrick’s Day—Laguna San Ignacio, Baja, Mexico. We’re on the Pacific side, south of central on this extraordinarily rugged 800-mile peninsula. It’s a pretty bare place, sere and severe. The wind seems never to cease. And everything […]

What Bid Do I Hear for the Life of That Thar Whale?

Whales on February 15th, 2012 No Comments

Blog previously posted on Huffington Post on Feb 7, 2012: How naive I was to have thought, back in my relative youth, that the 1986 global ban on whaling was, well—a global ban on whaling. Whaling not only continues, it’s intensifying. Each year now, Japan, Norway, and Iceland kill about 1,600 whales (mostly Finback and […]