Saturday, March 18, 2017

They're organizing! But for what?

Humpback whales are known for being the loners of the sea - while they tend to migrate, feed, and mate in groups, they spend much of their existence in solitude, or in small, short-lived groups of up to seven individuals.
But something could be brewing in our oceans, because scientists are reporting 22 separate instances of humpback 'super-groups' that defy explanation - never-before-seen groups of 20 to 200 whales all appearing off the southwest coast of South Africa in recent years.
Soon, the humpback legions will march on our capitols, wrecking revenge for the Hateful slaughter of the last century.  They shall hear and savor the lamentations of our women!
Australia's humpback population is reportedly at its healthiest levels since whaling ended along the east coast in the 1960s.
Findlay and his team suggest that this rapid increase could be the reason for changes in prey availability, forcing some to switch up their feeding strategies and end up in South Africa.
It could also be that this behaviour isn't actually new - as Mallory Locklear reports for New Scientist, humpback whales were found feeding off the south-west Cape coast of South Africa once in 1914, before whaling reduced their numbers by around 90 percent.
Now that their numbers are increasing, the whales could be returning to a behaviour established long ago, or perhaps a few have been doing it this whole time, but until they formed super-groups, no one had noticed.
Actually, that's good news.  Maybe there are simply enough of the big slippery guys and gals now that it's just hard not to notice them.

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