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The material on this site is the copyright of Asha de Vos. Photographs should not be used without the express permission of the photographer. For more information contact whalessrilanka@gmail.com

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Room with a view

Gray whale migration mural by Wyland outside my window

Blue whale painting in my room
Here I am, in TEDland meeting fabulous amazing people and talking lots. I wanted to share these two rather rapidly fired photos -- My room is perfect, I have a great room mate and whats more, I am surrounded by whales. This is going to be a super awesome week!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Ted experience

Here I am,ready for my first sleep as a Ted fellow.wow,met heaps of Amazing people already and super excited for an incredible week :) stay tuned or follow me on twitter.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fun facts from Salt Lake City

I've just spent the last week at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah and learnt plenty new things! 
Here are some fun facts :)
1. The Oxygen minimum zone within the Arabian sea is not where you would expect it,
2. The Arabian sea itself has gone from being a diatom dominated system to one dominated by Noctiluca, 
3. Pygmy sperm whales INK (like squid!!), 
4. 90% of the sardine fishery within caribbean is from the Northern Coast of Venezuela (thanks to a great upwelling!),
5. Fish on a reef in Israel consume zooplankton at about 2 animals per second,
6. Fossils of beluga, narwhals and bowhead whales have been dug out of the North sea and in many cases where they recorded right whales being caught they were actually bowheads! (but ice sheets have receded since and these animals have tracked that ice),
7. Since 1997-2004 chlorophyll along the coast of Oman has been increasing due to reducing sea surface temperatures which are being linked to the shrinking snow caps at the Himalayas
8. Squid detect low frequency acceleration and not sound prssure
9. Prochlorococcus is the smallest known oxygenic phototroph and is responsible for 20% of global primary production
10. Halobates a small insects like a pond skipper lays its eggs in plastics floating in the ocean!

This is my last sleep before I head back to California for my TED fellowship and I am very excited!! Hope you enjoyed the exciting facts and that you can all excuse me for not being in touch over the last 11 days :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dolphin hitches ride on humpback whale

The first images of gregarious humpback whales gently lifting bottlenose dolphins out of the water with their heads, were captured in Hawaiian waters recently. Click here to watch the sequence and read more http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/blog/32710/dolphins%20hitch%20rides%20on%20whales%20in%20rare%20playful%20display%20between%20species/

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cuttlefish boys only show their good sides to the girls..

A fascinating short talk by David Gallo a pioneer in ocean exploration described by TED as "an enthusiastic ambassador between the sea and those of us on dry land."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whales 'stressed by ocean noise'

Here's an interesting article about how increases in ocean noise cause whales to stress. While this reports on a study done in the Bay of Fundy, Canada it is applicable to our waters and we need to take heed. 

This article states that '...ocean noise has risen substantially in recent decades along with the growth in global shipping;one analysis showed that the north-eastern Pacific is 10-12dB louder now than in the 1960s.' 

Remember my blog about how heavy ship traffic is around our shores? (http://whalessrilanka.blogspot.com/2011/10/global-shipping-traffic-in-prime-blue.html.) Now revisit the figure that accompanied the blog and you will notice that ship traffic around our southern coast (and therefore within blue whale habitat) is equal to, if not higher than in the north-eastern Pacific and we have no idea how this affects our acoustically dependent marine life above and beyond the ship strikes that occur!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What are your thoughts on captive marine mammals?

What are your thoughts on dolphinariums or captive marine mammal enclosures? Do you feel the animals are treated suitably well or cared for as appropriate? What kinds of purposes do you think these enclosures serve? 

Here is an interesting article to just get your mind ticking.....http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/318549
(Taken from Bill Rossiter's facebook - Thanks Bill!!) 

Blue whales keep getting bigger

It's easier to grow bigger in the sea with the water holding up your weight, say researchers.


Thanks Sundy for sending this to me!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hot off the press!

Click here to read the most recent article on Sri Lankan blue whales - published today in the Sunday Leader http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2012/02/05/into-the-blue/

The only reason I am posting this right here right now is because our Sri Lankan newspapers have proudly displayed their capacity for unprofessionalism once again. Accompanying this article is a blue whale tail fluke taken by myself (I have illustrated this post with the original - as proof). It was provided with clear instructions to credit the photograph to me - it is after all something I created so I shouldn't even have to ask! As it turns out, the photograph has made an appearance in today's Sunday Leader MINUS the credit (check how the bottom of the photograph has been cropped - strategically removing any copyrights!). This has happened to me before and I am fully beginning to loose faith in our papers. In response to my evident unhappiness they have promised to print an apology - I await with bated breath.

Has this happened to anyone of you? Have you ever found one of your photographs decorated with someone else's name on a different website to your own? How do you deal with these issues? I know its a serious problem that my under and over-water photographer friends face and therefore a point worth putting on the discussion table.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Application notes :)

We got mentioned in the YSI Castaway (the manufacturers of the Conductivity Temperature Depth recorder that we use to measure salinity and temperature within our study area) Application Notes for 2011! Here is the quote;

"Recently, the CastAway-CTD was employed in a similar manner on BBC 1’s Ocean Giants, narrated by Stephen Fry. The first episode in a three-part series investigated why Blue Whales, usually a migratory species, stay around the Sri Lankan coastline in the warmer waters. Marine biologist Asha de Vos wanted to study the features of this water that sustain these whales year round, using the CastAway to record salinity and temperature levels at differing depths. She concluded, “Along our coastline, there are areas of mass upwelling of cold, nutrient rich water from the depths. These upwellings provide the perfect conditions for whale food; krill."

While CastAway retains all the advantages of a traditional CTD system, its additional appeal lies with its convenience, flexibility and speed—whether the instrument is being used in the freezing waters of the Arctic or the warm tropical waters of Sri Lanka."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Would you like to help?

Characteristic fluke

Differently shaped dorsal and mottling pattern on right dorsal flank help us identify this individual

This damaged dorsal fin is an easy one to remember!

Photo-identification techniques allow researchers to identify individuals using either naturally occurring pigmentation patterns, scarring or morphological differences. Photographs are taken of the right dorsal flank, left dorsal flank and tail fluke and then compared within and between years and between populations to define feeding stocks and determine migration patters of large whales. In the long-term these photographs also enable us to estimate population sizes.

If you or anyone you know has visited Sri Lanka to see the magnificent blue whales and would like to contribute photographs - please contact me on whalessrilanka@gmail.com. If you are keen to send in your images - don't forget to send your full name so you can be credited for your efforts within the photo catalogue. In the next few months, once we have the catalogue happily housed in MICSPIX (a kind contribution from the Mingan Island Cetacean Study), we intend to name the whales - watch this space for details on how to participate!