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Animals
A pod of narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in central Baffin Bay. Narwhals are the most vulnerable animals to increased ship traffic in the Arctic Ocean. Kristin Laidre / University of Washington, CC BY-ND

Arctic Ship Traffic Threatens Narwhals and Other Extraordinary Animals

By Donna Hauser, Harry Stern and Kristin Laidre

Americans often associate fall with football and raking leaves, but in the Arctic this season is about ice. Every year, floating sea ice in the Arctic thins and melts in spring and summer, then thickens and expands in fall and winter.

As climate change warms the Arctic, its sea ice cover is declining. This year scientists estimate that the Arctic sea ice minimum in late September covered 1.77 million square miles, tying the sixth lowest summertime minimum on record.

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Masha Netrebenko / Facebook

90 Belugas, 11 Orcas Trapped in 'Whale Jail' off Russian Coast

Ninety belugas and 11 orcas are being held in tiny enclosures described by media reports as "whale jails" off Russia's Pacific east coast.

An investigation has been launched at the site near city of Nakhodka, where some of the whales have been contained since July, CBS News reported.

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Mother and baby sperm whale. Wikimedia Commons

Sighting of Sperm Whales in Arctic Waters 'Really Shocking'

Sperm whales live in all the world's major oceans, but they tend to stay away from extremely cold waters near the poles. So you can imagine the surprise when scientists spotted a pair of these whales farther from their usual range.

World Wildlife Fund-Canada Arctic species specialist Brandon Laforest and his guide Titus Allooloo saw the whales near Pond Inlet, Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic in September, the CBC reported.

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Drones Capture Stunning Footage of Humpback and Gray Whales

Researchers are using drone technology to bring whale research to completely new heights.

On Sunday, the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Marine Mammal Research Program (MMRP) released incredible aerial footage of humpback and gray whales that's being used for important conservation efforts.

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Southern resident killer whales suffered a significant population decline in the late 1990s and are now listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. NOAA

With Only 74 Southern Resident Orcas Left, New Protections Announced For Iconic Killer Whales

With only 74 remaining in the wild, time is running out to save southern resident killer whales, especially after two died this summer.

This week, the Canadian government announced a slew of measures to save the critically endangered species. The $61.5 million (US$50 million) initiative will address three key threats to the orcas: a lack of chinook salmon, the whales' favored prey; contaminants in the water; and vessel traffic and noise that interferes with their hunting abilities, according to a news release from the Fisheries and Oceans department.

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Southern Resident killer whale. Rachael Griffin / iStock / Getty Images

These Whales Are Suffering a Slow-Motion Extinction

By Joshua Learn

Whether southern resident killer whales, North Atlantic right whales or Maui's dolphins, a handful of cetacean species are facing the prospect of a slow-motion extinction they can't breed their way out of.

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Humpback whale. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Humpback Whales Are Falling Silent and the Reason Will Make You Cry

Male humpback whales are known for their evocative songs, but their classic melodies are being shortened or silenced in reaction to shipping noise, Japanese researchers found.

Baleen whales such as humpbacks use songs to communicate, search for food, find mates and navigate the seas,but in Japan, their voices are being drowned out by the din of cacophonous human activity.

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Thom Yorke performs at Madison Square Garden in July. Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help Antarctica

Greenpeace is on a mission to create the largest protected area on earth in Antarctica, and it just gained a very talented ally to help promote that goal.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke released a single Tuesday in support of the campaign called "Hands Off Antarctica," The Guardian reported.

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Animals

Close-up of beluga whale swimming in water. Graham Swain / EyeEm / Getty Images

Beluga Whale in River Thames 'Very Lost and Quite Possibly in Trouble'

Beluga whales are normally found in icy Arctic and subarctic waters. So onlookers were undoubtedly surprised to spot one of the distinctive white whales swimming very far south in the UK's River Thames.

Ecologist and ornithologist Dave Andrews first posted footage of the unusual sighting onto Twitter on Tuesday and said the whale was feeding around the barges near the town of Gravesend in northwest Kent.


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