Southern Right Whale Dolphin (Lissodelphis peronii)
is a small species of dolphin found in cold subantarctic waters, as its name suggests, but some can be found in some subtropical waters like in Australia, South Africa and South America. This species is the only species of dolphin without a dorsal fin that can be found in the southern hemisphere, they are also distinct in their coloration as they have a sleek body with a black upper side and a white underside making them easily identifiable. They behave like most dolphins as they live in large to small groups and will often leap out of the water and bow-ride boats.
…an extinct genus of small whales that lived during the Pliocene epoch. Odobenocetops had a very flexible neck and a broad snout, like modern walruses. This suggests that it was a bottom feeder, and fed mostly on molluscs, sucking them out of their shells with a powerful tongue. Like the semi-related narwhal Odobenocetops had two large tusks (the only male specimen has one large tusk and one small tusk, it is speculated that this is true for all males but this is not confirmed) their exact function is unknown but it is thought that they might have been used as a sensory organ, like in narwhals.
“It’s basically a dolphin trying very hard to be a walrus”
Meet the walrus-whale, the extinct species of ancient whale, that looked a little like a cross between a dolphin and a walrus, and once roamed the oceans. Oh, for a time-traveling, whale-watching expedition!
Today, we hosted a Q&A with marine paleontologist Nick Pyenson who joined us to tell us more about the behind the scenes work of solving the mystery of just what caused the mass die-off in a five-million-year-old whale graveyard he and his team recently uncovered. “If you went on a whale watch in the late Miocene off the coast of Chile,” Pyenson told us, “you would see some of the familiar (big rorquals, dolphins) and then a bit of the exotic, extinct species (walrus-whales, gnarly sperm whales). This site is really an ecological snapshot.”
Wait, walrus-whales? Just what were walrus whales?
Walrus whales. A whole nother kettle of fish. They are completely extinct, and there are 2 species (in 1 genus, Odobenocetops) that have been described — both from Peru. They looked something like a dolphin from the neck down, but with an Admiral Ackbar-type face for a business end. It’s basically a dolphin trying very hard to be a walrus. They were a bit different from walruses in that the walrus whales had asymmetrical tusks (wild!).
EVERY KNOW WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MYSTICETI AND ODONTOCETI??
The cetaceans—whales, dolphins, and porpoises—are the most highly evolved, fully aquatic marine mammals, and make up 2 percent of the 4,600 living mammal species.
Dolphins belong to the suborder Odontoceti, or “toothed” cetaceans. Toothed whales are divided into ten families grouped into Three “superfamilies”: Delphinoidea, or oceanic dolphins, porpoises, and monodontids such as the beluga whale; Ziphoidea, or beaked whales; and Physeteroidea, or sperm, pygmy sperm, and dwarf sperm whales.
The other suborder of cetaceans, Mysticeti, comprises eleven species of whales which have baleen plates instead of teeth.
Toothed whales also differ from baleen whales in having a single (instead of a double) blowhole, a highly specialized echolocation system, and a pronounced forehead, or melon.
Toothed whales make up the vast majority of cetaceans. Approximately seventy one diverse species range from the relatively tiny vaquita, or Gulf of California harbor porpoise, which weighs in at about 120 pounds (about 50 kg) and is roughly 5 feet (about 1.5 m) long, to the well-known bottlenose dolphin, white beluga whale, and magniﬁcent killer whale (the largest dolphin) on up to the largest toothed whale, the sperm whale, which can reach 55 feet (18 m) in length. The terms porpoise, whale, and dolphin are often used interchangeably, but size (speciﬁ cally length) is the criterion anatomists have generally used to apply the common name whale.
Porpoises, members of the family Phocoenidae, differ from dolphins in several characteristics. Typically smaller, they also lack a pronounced rostrum (beak) and have shorter, spade-shaped teeth as opposed to dolphins’ more conical, pointy teeth.
In the early 2000s, non-native people – international dolphin traffickers – capitalizing on the low incomes in the Solomon Islands and seeing an opportunity to exploit the dolphin hunting situation, began paying relatively sizeable amounts to some locals to capture live bottlenose dolphins.
The buyers then market and sell the animals to international aquariums for profits in excess of ten-fold the price paid to the locals.
Despite joining CITES in 2007, the Solomon Islands announced that it would sanction the unsustainable capture and export of 100 dolphins per year. Several dolphin capture outfits have subsequently sprung up and more exports are taking place.
Certain local government officials in the Solomon Islands have become complicit in enabling the ventures to take place with little scrutiny and/or concern for their country’s international treaty obligations.
As a result, the capture of wild bottlenose dolphins continues, along with the exploitation and corruption of local people, cultural traditions and way of life.
Facilities that Hold Solomon Island Dolphins Captive:
ATLANTIS DUBAI, DUBAI
RESORTS WORLD AT SENTOSA, SINGAPORE
AWANA PORTO MALAI, MALAYSIA
OCEAN ADVENTURE PARK, PHILIPPINES
Please avoid these facilities at all costs, and discourage any friends or family members from visiting as well. Boycotting is an extremely effective method of bringing about change, and we can’t let this animal exploitation continue.
Today I discovered the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), and I am absolutely captivated by them and their plight!
These small porpoises are critically endangered. Found along the Gulf of California, the Vaquita is at risk from fishing bycatch, often caught up in gillnets, environmental pollution, habitat degradation, and inbreeding.
Their numbers currently resides somewhere below 200, and their population decreases by as much as 15% each year! Within the next 30 years, they could decrease by 80%.
To help the Vaquita, spread the word and support efforts to improve fishing gear! Be careful of where you buy your seafood, and be sure it is MSC certified!