Tag Archives: orca

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013, I was invited to go along on a whale watching trip with people from Potoroo Palace (an animal sanctuary and source for many of my animal photos) on a Go Whale Watching tour. To see the details of what was seen, click the link below...

Whale Watching from Merimbula

This post is additional to the observational post and aims to give more information on humpback whales and their migration along the coast near my home.

Humpback Whales

(Information sources: Wikipedia...   Humpback Whale  and an Australian Government pdf fact sheet Eastern Humpback Whales )

 

This graphic was sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is listed as in the public domain in the US.

This graphic was sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is listed as in the public domain in the US.

The link below is a recording of humpback whale song. It was sourced through Wikimedia Commons where it is listed as in the public domain.

 Humpbackwhale2

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are members of the balaenopteridae family of cetacea (whales, dolphins and porpoises), i.e. they are not toothed whales. They have a baleen made of a similar material to your fingernails. Their baleen is used to filter out food when they take in large amounts of water when feeding. They feed on krill (like small shrimp/prawns) or small school fish.

One surprising behaviour I have seen in nature programs is the way humpbacks work together to encircle schools of small fish using bubbles they blow. Making the circle of bubbles slowly smaller, they eventually lung up through the school of fish with mouth open taking in thousands of fish in one gulp. The water drains through the baleen leaving the fish trapped.

Migration

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The green shaded areas are approximate breeding areas for humpback whales.

Humpback whale populations are found in the North Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans. The Southern Ocean humpbacks are the whales we find migrating along Australia's coast so I will write about those passing my area annually.

During the summer months, humpbacks feed mostly on krill in Antarctic waters. Although the timing can vary, most head north from June to August and south again from September to November. In northern waters, they don't tend to feed but this is where they mate and females give birth to their calves. The September to November migration gives a good chance to see mothers and calves heading south for summer. The calves take milk and build up fat reserves along the way.

In the photo below taken on October 16, a mother and calf seemed to be at play. The mother's pectoral fin and fluke are to the left and the calf's pectoral fin is at the right.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

How Will I Know If It's a Humpback?

Humpback whales can be identified by the features you see when they surface. Below are some photos I have taken to help you...

blow

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

flukes

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

diving

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

pectoral fin

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

surfacing

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 Below is a short video clip made from a series of still photos. It shows a whale blowing and diving.

Whaling in Australia

Whaling had once been a big industry in parts of Australia, including Eden near my home. Whaling along the east coast stopped in 1963. All Australian whaling was banned by 1979. Since then the numbers of humpback whales migrating along our coast has been growing.

Located in Eden, the Eden Killer Whale Museum has many displays dealing with local whaling history...

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...but perhaps my favourite display is the skeleton of Old Tom, an orca or killer whale (Orcinus orca). Unlike humpbacks, orca are toothed whales. They can feed on fish, sea lions, seals, walruses and even other whales such as the humpback.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Why is Old Tom so special? Old Tom was said to have had a special relationship with whalers in the past. Old Tom was thought to be the leader of an orca pod. The pod would herd balleen whales into Twofold Bay and help the whalers kill the whales. The orcas would then be rewarded by the whalers with the tongue and lips of the balleen whales. It was said at times Old Tom would hold a rope from a whaling boat to tow it out to the balleen whales. On September 17, 1930, Old Tom was found dead in Twofold Bay. His age was unclear but he could have been up to 80 years old*.

Eden remembers its past with the annual Eden Whale Festival attracting locals and tourists to the parade and festival area where rides, displays and entertainment are available.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This year (2013) the Eden Whale Festival parade is scheduled for November 2.

* Thanks goes to Jody White, Collection Manager for the Eden Killer Whale Museum, for the updated information on the age of Old Tom. Early 1970s age dating for Old Tom is thought to have been unreliable in placing Old Tom's age at 35.

For the Our World, Our Numbers post...

Topic 5: Animals

Hello everyone,

After watching the informative video made by Mrs. Watson and her class, I wondered if I could find similar animals found in Australia. We don't have  the same species of animals with one exception, Australia also has killer whales but more about them later.

For each Australian animal I show, you will see I mention one of the 16 animals Mrs. Watson's K/1/2/3's class shared. The Australian animals I share might have similar appearance, similar names, similar food or similar habitat. Some of my drawings were prepared for first time use in this post.

 

1. Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platypus

I don't have a photo I have taken so I prepared this drawing for you.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Class: Mammalia

Order: monotremata (egg- laying mammals)

Like the beaver, the platypus spends much of its time in rivers and streams. It doesn't build dams. Instead it lives in burrows in the banks. It has thick, water-proof fur. It's sometimes called the duck-billed platypus but its "bill" isn't like a duck's bill, its more flexible and is used to search the bottom of streams for grubs and worms. When a specimen was first sent to England, scientists thought it was a hoax made by sewing bits of different animals together.

"Weight varies considerably from 0.7 to 2.4 kg (1.5 to 5.3 lb), with males being larger than females; males average 50 cm (20 in) in total length, while females average 43 cm (17 in)." Wikipedia

Here is a link to a You Tube video of the platypus from National Geographic...

This is not my video clip.

 

2. Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpback_whale

Here is a drawing I prepared for another post.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetacea

Like the beluga, the humpback is a whale. It can be seen in any of the world's oceans whereas the beluga whale is only found in Arctic waters. Beluga are toothed whales whereas humpback whales are baleen whales. A beluga mainly feeds on fish like the Pacific salmon whereas humpback whales feed on krill (like small shrimp/prawns) and schools of small fish. Visitors to my town can take trips on boats to watch humpback whales on their annual migrations along our coast.

 Fully grown, the males average 13–14 m (43–46 ft). Females are slightly larger at 15–16 m (49–52 ft).

3. The Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_devil

Again, I didn't have a suitable photo. This drawing was prepared for another post.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Class:Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia  (pouched mammals)

Order: Dasyuromorphia

Comparing an Australian animal to the wolverine was difficult. We don't have any large, strong natural predators in Australia but the Tasmanian devil is a carnivore. It's only the size of a small dog and can only be found in the wild in Tasmania, Australia's most southerly state.

"Males are usually larger than females, having an average head and body length of 652 mm (25.7 in), a 258 mm (10.2 in) tail and an average weight of 8 kg (18 lb). Females have an average head and body length of 570 mm (22 in), a 244 mm (9.6 in) tail and an average weight of 6 kg (13 lb)." Wikipedia

I have a You Tube clip I found on the web. You will see and hear two Tasmanian devils having an argument.

 

This is not my video clip.

 4. Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_brushtail_possum

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Bournda National Park, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia  (pouched mammals)

Order: Diprotodontia

 I chose to compare the brushtail possum to the raccoon because they both don't mind living in urban areas and getting any human food they can find. The one in the photo was seen on a school camp one night. It was watching to see if we would leave any food out.

The common brushtail possum has a head and body length of 32 – 58 cm (12.5in - 23in) with a tail length of 24 – 40 cm (9.5in - 15.5in). It weighs 1.2 - 4.5 kg (2.6lb - 10lb).

 5. Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacinus cynocephalus)

Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmanian_tiger

I don't have any photos of a Tasmanian tiger (thylacine) as it is thought to have become extinct in the 1930s. Here is a drawing I prepared.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here is a link to a You Tube clip showing the last known thylacine.

This is not my video clip.

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia  (pouched mammals)

Order: Dasyuromorphia

Australia doesn't have any native cats in the wild (there are escaped domestic cats). To choose something like the cougar, I chose the marsupial Tasmanian tiger. It was a nocturnal (nighttime) animal that looked a little like a dog but it was a marsupial and the famales had pouches to carry its young. Like the cougar, the thylacine was carnivorous. It once also roamed mainland Australia with remains of one being found to be over 3,000 years old.

"The mature thylacine ranged from 100 to 130 cm (39 to 51 in) long, plus a tail of around 50 to 65 cm (20 to 26 in). The largest measured specimen was 290 cm (9.5 ft) from nose to tail. Adults stood about 60 cm (24 in) at the shoulder and weighed 20 to 30 kg (40 to 70 lb)." WIkipedia

6. Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)

Reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_pied_cormorant

 

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Merimbula, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Aves (birds)

Order: Suliformes

Since first seeing a photo of the puffin, I found them fascinating birds. They look a little like penguins but aren't and can fly.  The little pied cormorant has similar feeding habits. It dives under the water looking for small fish or bottom-dwelling crustaceans.

It can measure 56–58 cm (22–23 in).

7. Dingo (Canus Lupus Dingo)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

While Australia does have red foxes, they were only introduced to Australia in the 1800s. There were people who wanted to go fox hunting. The dingo was first thought to have been brought to Australia by Aborigines perhaps 6000 to 10,000 years ago. They are thought to be closely related to grey wolves and dingoes.

Dingoes can be 52 to 60 cm (20 to 24 in) tall at the shoulders and measure 117 to 154 cm (46 to 61 in) from nose to tail tip. The average weight is 13 to 20 kg (29 to 44 lb).

8. Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan

It was a surprise I couldn't find a black swan in my collection of photos so I added a photo of a pair today.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Merimbula, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Aves (birds)

Order: Anseriformes

Black swans can be 110 and 142 centimetres (43 and 56 in) in length and weigh 3.7–9 kilograms (8.2–20 lb).

Australia also has swans. The black swan is an Australian native and is part of the state of Western Australia's coast of arms and flag.

This graphic is in the public domain and was listed in Wikimedia Commons.

9. Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_quoll

Again, I don't have a tiger quoll photo in my collection so here is my attempt at drawing one.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia  (pouched mammals)

Order: Dasyuromorphia

Australia doesn't have any native cats  such as the lynx but does have escaped domestic cats in the wild. I chose the quoll because it is also a carnivore. It is an endangered species. Climate change, predation and even poisoning from baiting for feral animals are some of the cause of their decline in the wild.

Quoll males weigh around 3.5 kg (7.7lb) and females around 1.8 kg (4lb).

10. Dromedary Camel (Camelus dromedarius)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_feral_camel

 This is the scan of a 35mm slide I took near Alice Springs in Central Australia nearly 30 years ago.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Australia doesn't have native deer or, for that matter, native camels, so white-tailed deer might only be found in zoos and on deer farms. I chose to add feral (gone wild) camels because they can be seen wandering Australia's deserts. Australia has the largest population of feral camels in the world (estimated around one million in 2009. In the early 1800s, exploring inland Australia's desert regions needed a good means of getting around. Camels were used by some explorers. In the early days of settlement, camels also provided a way goods could be taken over desert regions. They aren't used now, except for tourists as those in the photo. Road, rail and air has replaced them. They cause problems for native wildlife and cattle fencing so the numbers have to be controlled. Many are exported to the Middle East from where they once had come.

Camels can weigh 300 to 600 kg (660 to 1,300 lb).

11. Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koala

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia  (pouched mammals)

Order: Diprotodontia

Australia doesn't native bears like the grizzly bear but sometimes the koala is called the koala bear. The grizzly  bear is a placental mammal whereas the koala is a marsupial mammal. The female koala (Suzie) in this photo had a joey (marsupial baby) in her pouch when this photo was taken.

The koala has a body length of 60–85 cm (24–33 in) and weighs 4–15 kg (9–33 lb)

Below is a video I had taken on one of the first times Suzie's baby looked out of her pouch. Like all marsupials, the young are born very small and have to make their way into the pouch where they remain until ready to leave the pouch.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

12. Diprotodon (Diprotodon optatum)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diprotodon

Wikimedia Commons graphic created by Dmitry Bogdanov

This is a Wikimedia Commons graphic by Dmitry Bogdanov.

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Marsupialia  (pouched mammals)

Order: Diprotodontia

We don't have any bison native to Australia. There are feral species of water buffalo in the north but I have chosen an Australian megafauna (big animal) example.

Imagine a giant wombat taller than a human at its shoulders. They are thought to have become extinct 28,000 or more years ago. The first Aboriginal people coming to Australia probably saw them but I have only seen fossils and bones of them. It may look a little like a bear but it's a marsupial so females had a pouch for their young.

The diprotodon can be up to 3 metres (10 ft) from nose to tail, standing 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 2,800 kilograms (6,200 lb).

13. Short-beaked Echidna or Spiny Anteater (Tachyglossus aculeatus)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-beaked_Echidna

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Mammalia

Order: monotremata (egg- laying mammals)

You can see why I chose to compare the porcupine with an echidna. They both have a spiny defence. With the platypus I showed as number 1, the different species of echidna and the platypus are the world's only surviving species of monotremes, i.e. egg laying mammals. The short-beaked echidna in the photo is common in most areas of Australia and I have even found one in my garden.

The short-beaked echdina can 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in) in length, with 75 mm (3 in) of snout, and weigh between 2 and 5 kg (4.4 and 11 lb).

Below is a video clip of an echidna.

Schools and students have permission to use this video clip for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

14. Killer Whale (Orcinus Orca)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_whale

We also have orcas here in Australia's water. They are widespread throughout the world's oceans and seas. Below is a photo of an orca skeleton to be seen inside the Eden Killer Whale Museum about 20km from my town. The skeleton is of Old Tom. After you look at his photo, I will tell you why he is locally famous.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Eden Whaling Museum, Eden, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Mammalia

Order: Cetacea

Whaling was banned in Australian in 1979. The town of Eden was once a whaling town. Whales were hunted as they made their way along our coast. It's at Eden a strange relationship began between the whalers and a pod of killer whales began. The whales began helping the whalers by herding other whales (baleen whales such as the humpback) into Twofold Bay. The killer whale thought to be the pod leader, Old Tom, would come to alert the whalers. The whalers would head out in their boats with Old Tom sometimes taking hold of a rope and towing a boat out.

Why would killer whales do this?

Killer whales naturally hunt other whales along our coastline but it can be an effort for them. Their reward was the whale tongue and lips. The whalers would use most of the whale but would throw the tongue and lips to the killer whales. The tongue and lips were favourites of the orcas. Old Tom died in 1930, his skeleton now in the Eden Killer Whale Museum. His mouth shows the wear caused by towing the boats.

Killer whale males typically range from 6 to 8 metres (20 to 26 ft) long and weigh in excess of 6 tonnes (5.9 tons). Females are smaller.

15. Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawny_Frogmouth

Australia has a number of native owl species but the snowy owl isn't one of them. I could have chosen an owl but I instead chose the tawny frogmouth. It is a bird sometimes mistaken for an owl and one I have seen while hiking.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Potoroo Palace, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Aves (birds)

Order: Caprimulgiformes

(Owls are in the order Strigiformes.)

Like owls, the tawny frogmouth hunts at night. Unlike owls, they catch their prey with their beaks. When scared, they will stand perfectly still with their heads pointing upwards in the hope their camouflage will protect them. While I have seen them doing this, the pictured tawny frogmouth simply opened its eyes, looked at me and didn't seem to worry I was nearby.

They can grow to 35–53 cm (14–21 in) long and can weigh up to 680 grams (1.5 lbs).

16. Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_black_snake

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Location: Wolumla, N.S.W., Australia

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Like the rattlesnake, the red-bellied black snake is poisonous. The black snake, or any other Australian snake, doesn't have a rattle in the tail. I have seen this species a number of times when hiking but it's not a very aggressive snake and generally is more interested in getting away from people.

They can grow to 1.5m to 2.0m (5ft to 6ft 9inches).