Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sperm Whale Eating Squid

I had been following a pod of sperm whales off the north coast of the island of Faial in the Azores and dived with one young male about 6 to 7 metres in length. I saw him again four hours later and as I entered the water, I realized that he was eating something.
He certainly had a mouthful as a large squid mantle overhung both sides of his lower jaw. This was my fifth year of diving with sperm whales in the Azores but my first opportunity to observe a whale eating first hand.
He firstly swam past with the meal firmly clamped in his jaws, but then rolled over and swam underneath me as he began to consume the squid. It wasn't exactly an elegant process. Firstly he had to disgorge the squid which was lodged in his throat and then he chewed it with convulsive motion. The water was soon littered with bits and pieces of left-over squid but at least he seemed to enjoy the meal.
My colleague, Wade Hughes has put in some internet legwork and a view from a number of scientists is the meal was a Dana Octopus Squid (Taningia danae), one of the larger species which grows to 2.3 metres.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sperm Whale Babies - Ocean Geographic Article

The current edition of Ocean Geographic magazine has run an article of mine on newborn sperm whales in the Azores entitled "Wrinkled Babies." It is issue 13:3/2010 - The Cetacea Edition.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bryde's Whale In the Azores

Bryde's Whales are only an occasional visitor to the Azores. This solitary female spent two days feeding on sardines of the South coast of Pico Island in July.