Oh Baby! Gray Whale Calves Galore

Gray whale and calf swimming north.

Gray whale and calf swimming north.

In 2014, researchers counted 431 newborn gray whale calves. The story of the eastern gray whales, from endangered to thriving, is a beacon of hope for other conservation efforts.

Once nearly extinct, conservation efforts lead to the eastern Pacific gray whale population rebounding and its eventual removal from the endangered species list in 1994. Today, about 20,000 of these bus-sized beauties thrive along the Pacific Coast of North America. That’s a definite cause for celebration!

Join us in April to follow gray whale moms and newborn calves heading north to their feeding grounds.

WhaleTimes’  Gray Whales: Celebration of Conservation highlights the astounding success of the gray whale recovery and current research to monitor the gray whale population.

Teachers…enroll today! This program is free to schools, but has limited space. Find out more. Contact us at:  graywhales2015 this URL.


Creep into the Deep, we’ve got dates!

Year-round schools and Summer Camp Teachers….

Hurray! We’ve set the dates for Creep into the Deep, 2015.

We’ll be in the deep in July 16 to 25, 2015.

Find out more about Creep into the Deep, under the “Programs” banner.


Paper nautilus with passenger

Dr. Tammy Frank, aboard NOAA RV Pisces many miles off the coast of Rhode Island, is part of a science team surveying deep sea life. They brought up another paper nautilus, with the mama inside. Very cool! Thanks for sharing Dr. Frank.

Paper Nautilus with Cephalopod InsideLeptocephalus larvae NOAA RV Pisces Oct 2014 Copyright T Frank  WhaleTimes wblg

Transparent baby eel

More fun photos from Dr. Frank. The waves are still rocking and rolling, but they’re finding some cool critters like this eel larva. Leptocephalus larvae NOAA RV Pisces Oct 2014 Copyright T Frank  WhaleTimes wblg

Transparency is a common camouflage in the deep.  What better way is there to become invisible then to be see-through!

A rare find…

WhaleTimes Board Member Tamara Frank, PhD from Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center (Dania Beach, Florida) is out to sea and sharing her adventure with us.

A hurricane off the Atlantic coast has created some rough weather, but the science team aboard the NOAA RV Pisces has still had some success. The cruise is the deepwater biodiversity cruise off the Bear Seamount.

Paper nautilus shell brought up from deep

Paper nautilus shell brought up from deep

As they study populations in the deep, one of the trawls brought up a rarely seen paper nautilus with the shell in still intact. Beautiful! Little is known about this delicate cephalopod.

Thanks Tammy for sharing the photos.

more to come…

Celebrate Hagfish Day with bouquet of hagfish and more…

Hello Hagfish Day Fans!

We apologize for the paucity of Hagfish Day fun, animals and activities. As you may have read (if you went to the bottom of the first page) WhaleTimes was hacked at the end of September.

Since we had already planned to rebuild the site early next year, to celebrate our 20th anniversary (yea!), we chose to find the silver lining and decided to start rebuilding now.

At any rate, we still want you to celebrate the ‘beauty of ugly’ so here are some fun activities You must try making your own hagfish slime or perhaps make a gorgeous Hagfish Day Bouquet for a friend or even write a Hagfish Haiku, or make a Slime Time Crown and become Hagfish Day Royalty


enGrossed in Slime or It’s Not Funny Activity 
Slime Time Crown
Write Hagfish Haikus
Make a Hagfish Cootie Catcher (aka Fortune Tellers) and don’t forget to… Say it with a Hagfish Bouquet

Douglas S. Fudge and Hagfish Slime

CopyrightWhaleTimesItsSlimeTimeBanner SM

Hagfish hanging out.

Hagfish hanging out.

Hi Hagfish Day Fans,
I shared a few of your questions with Douglas S. Fudge, a fascinating biologist with the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada. Dr. Fudge was kind enough to help us understand and appreciate this incredible fish.
Dr. Fudge, what was your first thought when you heard that hagfish finally got their own holiday? What took so long?
What should kids should about hagfish? Where to begin? That they can tie themselves in knots. That they can pass their body through a knot to wipe slime off. That they can use knot-tying to gain leverage when feeding on carcasses. That they can be bitten by a shark and not be injured. That they can burrow into a rotting whale carcass to feed and not worry about the lack of oxygen in there. That they are supremely good at detecting dead things that fall to the ocean floor. That they have multiple hearts. That they can go months at a time without feeding. I could go on
What is the most amazing thing about hagfish? Definitely the slime. Did I mention the slime?
Do you and your team really study slime? Yes, we really study the slime, which I admit sounds a bit silly. Hagfish slime is not your usual slime – they can produce liters of it in a fraction of a second and it contains thousands of silk like fibres. Our best hypothesis about its function is that it deters attacks by fish predators by clogging their gills. We are currently trying to understand how the stuff that comes shooting out of the slime glands transforms so quickly into such a large volume of slime. We are also studying the cells that make the silk like fibers, which are some of the strangest cells in the animal kingdom. We are also doing biomimetic research on how we might be able to produce artificial fibers that are as strong and tough as hagfish slime threads.
This is really important…are you wearing a slime shirt right now? I am, mostly as a precaution against fish predators.

How does increased and larger scale fishing deeper in the ocean impact hagfish? Many hagfish populations are declining due to overfishing for both food and leather (marketed as “eelskin”). Hagfish are slow to reproduce and easy to catch with baited traps, so it is all too easy to wipe them out.
Why do you think a hagfish is cooler than a killer whale? Killer whales (or orcas) are cool, but can they themselves into knots? Can a killer whale suffocate a shark? Can a killer whale produce a mass of slime over 100 times larger than itself?
Do you think “the beauty that is hagfish” might intimidate other animals? I don’t think this is something they worry too much about.
How long have you been studying hagfish? Do you study them from shore, a ship, a sub? I’ve been studying hagfish for 17 years, mostly in the lab, but I’d very much like to study them in their natural habitat.
How can I help hagfish? It’s refreshing to get this question (it’s not one I get very often). I asked our resident hagfish and overwhelmingly they said burial at sea. You can also support initiatives to regulate the harvest of hagfishes, most of which are currently unprotected. Putting limits on trawling, which can be destructive to hagfish habitat, and supporting the establishment of marine protected areas, are also things that would help hagfishes.
How can I support your research? Visit our website at http://comparativephys.ca/members/dfudge, and support government funding for basic, discovery  based research.
What do you want people to learn/discover while they celebrate Hagfish Day? I think the most important lesson of Hagfish Day is that it’s not just the cute marine mammals that are deserving of our attention and protection. Hagfishes have been on this planet for about half a billion years and there is much we can learn from them.

Thank you Dr. Fudge for your time and amazing research!!!

**A special thanks to Dr. Fudge for helping us celebrate Hagfish Day. Dr. Fudge’s research is supported by funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.
Read more about Dr. Fudge’s discoveries

Remember to celebrate Hagfish Day October 15, 2015 (and the third Wednesday every October).

Reference: Douglas S. Fudge and Hagfish Slime,  Hagfish Day! WhaleTimes, Inc. (www.whaletimes.org) October 2014.

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