Hurricanes and Whales

From: Kim Marshall (kimm@oceanalliance.org)
Date: Mon Sep 22 2003 - 13:29:18 EDT

  • Next message: Kim Marshall: "Dolphin pods in hurricanes"

    Question: What effect will Hurricane Isabel have on the whales in
    Stellwagon Bank, if any?

    Reply:
    Whales are very aware of their environment and what natural threats may
    affect them. They live in a world of sound and sound travels farther under
    the water than in air so they can hear water motion from events like
    hurricanes well in advance. Whales may swim away from the bad weather but
    they are designed to live in the water and they can hold their breath for
    long periods of time making it less dangerous for them to be in a hurricane.
    Just this weekend one of my colleagues witnessed a humpback whale in
    Stellwagon bank playing in the high surf near a whale watch boat. The
    effects of a hurricane underwater are much less severe than at the surface
    however heavy winds can make their lives more difficult because a heavy sea
    state makes the water very noisy and this can affect their ability to
    communicate or echolocate, baby whales (calves) canšt hold their breath as
    long as their parents so frequent trips to the surface can be hazardous, or
    in productive feeding areas like Stellwagon Bank the weather may effect the
    production and distribution of the whalešs prey species.

    Below are some links to similar questions asked on WhaleNet:
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/ask98/0459.html
    http://whale.wheelock.edu/archives/ask99/0452.html

    Thank you!
    Kim

    Kim Marshall
    Executive Director
    Ocean Alliance (Whale Conservation Inst. & the Voyage of the Odyssey)
    191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA 01773
    781.259.0423 ext. 14 fax 259.0288
    www.oceanalliance.org www.pbs.org/odyssey
    Please support our efforts to conserve whales and their ocean environment
    through research and education :)



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