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Sperm whale

Shane Gero, Hal Whitehead
Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) populations were expected to rebuild following the end of commercial whaling. We document the decline of the population in the eastern Caribbean by tracing demographic changes of well-studied social units. We address hypotheses that, over a ten-year period of dedicated effort (2005-2015), unit size, numbers of calves and/or calving rates have each declined. Across 16 units, the number of adults decreased in 12 units, increased in two, and showed no change in two. The number of adults per unit decreased at -0...
2016: PloS One
Phillip J Clapham, Yulia V Ivashchenko
Falsification of reports on Japanese catches of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) is known to have occurred at both land whaling stations and in North Pacific factory fleets. Here, we conduct an analysis of pelagic sperm whale catches in the Southern Hemisphere: we compare true Soviet length data from the Yuri Dolgorukiy factory fleet during 1960-1975 to data for the same period reported to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) by Japan. Prior to implementation of the International Observer Scheme (IOS) in 1972, the Soviet fleet killed 5536 females, of which only 153 (2...
September 2016: Royal Society Open Science
Bing Wang, Leonard M Thomas, George B Richter-Addo
Bioorganometallic Fe-C bonds are biologically relevant species that may result from the metabolism of natural or synthetic hydrazines. The molecular structures of four new sperm whale mutant myoglobin derivatives with Fe-aryl moieties, namely H64A-tolyl-m, H64A-chlorophenyl-p, H64Q-tolyl-m, and H64Q-chlorophenyl-p, have been determined at 1.7-1.9Å resolution. The structures reveal conformational preferences for the substituted aryls resulting from attachment of the aryl ligands to Fe at the site of net -NHNH2 release from the precursor hydrazines, and show distal pocket changes that readily accommodate these bulky ligands...
June 24, 2016: Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry
Vikas Tyagi, Gopeekrishnan Sreenilayam, Priyanka Bajaj, Antonio Tinoco, Rudi Fasan
The first example of a biocatalytic [2,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement reaction involving allylic sulfides and diazo reagents (Doyle-Kirmse reaction) is reported. Engineered variants of sperm whale myoglobin catalyze this synthetically valuable C-C bond-forming transformation with high efficiency and product conversions across a variety of sulfide substrates (e.g., aryl-, benzyl-, and alkyl-substituted allylic sulfides) and α-diazo esters. Moreover, the scope of this myoglobin-mediated transformation could be extended to the conversion of propargylic sulfides to give substituted allenes...
October 17, 2016: Angewandte Chemie
Bianca Unger, Elisa L Bravo Rebolledo, Rob Deaville, Andrea Gröne, Lonneke L IJsseldijk, Mardik F Leopold, Ursula Siebert, Jérôme Spitz, Peter Wohlsein, Helena Herr
30 sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) stranded along the coasts of the North Sea between January and February 2016. The gastro-intestinal tracts of 22 of the carcasses were investigated. Marine debris including netting, ropes, foils, packaging material and a part of a car were found in nine of the 22 individuals. Here we provide details about the findings and consequences for the animals. While none of the items was responsible for the death of the animal, the findings demonstrate the high level of exposure to marine debris and associated risks for large predators, such as the sperm whale...
November 15, 2016: Marine Pollution Bulletin
Sean M Wiggins, Jesse M Hall, Bruce J Thayre, John A Hildebrand
The ocean soundscape of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has not been well-studied, although it is an important habitat for marine mammals, including sperm and beaked whales, many dolphin species, and a potentially endangered baleen whale species. The GOM is also home to high levels of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction, heavily used commercial shipping ports, and significant fishery industry activity, all of which are known contributors to oceanic noise. From 2010-2013, the soundscape of three deep and two shallow water sites in the GOM were monitored over 10 - 1000 Hz...
July 2016: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Shane Gero, Anne Bøttcher, Hal Whitehead, Peter Teglberg Madsen
Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are unusual in that there is good evidence for sympatric populations with distinct culturally determined behaviour, including potential acoustic markers of the population division. In the Pacific, socially segregated, vocal clans with distinct dialects coexist; by contrast, geographical variation in vocal repertoire in the Atlantic has been attributed to drift. We examine networks of acoustic repertoire similarity and social interactions for 11 social units in the Eastern Caribbean...
June 2016: Royal Society Open Science
A Fais, M Johnson, M Wilson, N Aguilar Soto, P T Madsen
The sperm whale carries a hypertrophied nose that generates powerful clicks for long-range echolocation. However, it remains a conundrum how this bizarrely shaped apex predator catches its prey. Several hypotheses have been advanced to propose both active and passive means to acquire prey, including acoustic debilitation of prey with very powerful clicks. Here we test these hypotheses by using sound and movement recording tags in a fine-scale study of buzz sequences to relate the acoustic behaviour of sperm whales with changes in acceleration in their head region during prey capture attempts...
2016: Scientific Reports
Kazue Ohishi, Takeharu Bando, Erika Abe, Yasushi Kawai, Yoshihiro Fujise, Tadashi Maruyama
In a long-term, large-scale serologic study in the western North Pacific Ocean, anti-Brucella antibodies were detected in common minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) in the 1994-2010 offshore surveys (21%, 285/1353) and in the 2006-2010 Japanese coastal surveys (20%, 86/436), in Bryde's whales (B. brydei) in the 2000-2010 offshore surveys (9%, 49/542), in sei whales (B. borealis) in the 2002-2010 offshore surveys (5%, 40/788) and in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the 2000-2010 offshore surveys (8%, 4/50)...
June 18, 2016: Journal of Veterinary Medical Science
Karl Marx A Quiazon
Cetaceans are definitive hosts of anisakid nematodes known to cause human anisakidosis. Despite the reported strandings of different cetaceans in the Philippines, studies on anisakids from these definitive hosts are limited. Here, the morphologically and molecularly identified anisakid species, specifically those of the genus Anisakis Dujardin, 1845 in stranded Pygmy Sperm Whale Kogia breviceps Blainville, 1838 in the west Pacific region off Philippine waters are presented. Morphological data using SEM and LM revealed multi-infections with different Anisakis species belonging to Anisakis type I and type II groups...
September 2016: Parasitology Research
Cláudia Oliveira, Magnus Wahlberg, Mónica A Silva, Mark Johnson, Ricardo Antunes, Danuta M Wisniewska, Andrea Fais, João Gonçalves, Peter T Madsen
Sperm whales produce codas for communication that can be grouped into different types according to their temporal patterns. Codas have led researchers to propose that sperm whales belong to distinct cultural clans, but it is presently unclear if they also convey individual information. Coda clicks comprise a series of pulses and the delay between pulses is a function of organ size, and therefore body size, and so is one potential source of individual information. Another potential individual-specific parameter could be the inter-click intervals within codas...
May 2016: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Andrea Fais, Tim P Lewis, Daniel P Zitterbart, Omar Álvarez, Ana Tejedor, Natacha Aguilar Soto
[This corrects the article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150660.].
2016: PloS One
Olga Panagiotopoulou, Panagiotis Spyridis, Hyab Mehari Abraha, David R Carrier, Todd C Pataky
Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick was inspired by historical instances in which large sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus L.) sank 19th century whaling ships by ramming them with their foreheads. The immense forehead of sperm whales is possibly the largest, and one of the strangest, anatomical structures in the animal kingdom. It contains two large oil-filled compartments, known as the "spermaceti organ" and "junk," that constitute up to one-quarter of body mass and extend one-third of the total length of the whale...
2016: PeerJ
Jeppe Holm, Pouria Dasmeh, Kasper P Kepp
The evolution of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) from land to water is one of the most spectacular events in mammal evolution. It has been suggested that selection for higher myoglobin stability (∆G of folding) allowed whales to conquer the deep-diving niche. The stability of multi-site protein variants, including ancient proteins, is however hard to describe theoretically. From a compilation of experimental ∆∆G vs. ∆G we first find that protein substitutions are subject to large generic protein relaxation effects...
July 2016: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
Peter B Best, Theoni Photopoulou
The presence of crater-like wounds on cetaceans and other large marine vertebrates and invertebrates has been attributed to various organisms. We review the evidence for the identity of the biting agent responsible for crater wounds on large whales, using data collected from sei (Balaenoptera borealis), fin (B. physalus), inshore and offshore Bryde's (B. brydeii sp) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) examined at the Donkergat whaling station, Saldanha Bay, South Africa between March and October 1963...
2016: PloS One
Saana Isojunno, Charlotte Cure, Petter Helgevold Kvadsheim, Frans-Peter Alexander Lam, Peter Lloyd Tyack, Paul Jacobus Wensveen, Patrick James O'Malley Miller
The time and energetic costs of behavioral responses to incidental and experimental sonar exposures, as well as control stimuli, were quantified using hidden state analysis of time series of acoustic and movement data recorded by tags (DTAG) attached to 12 sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) using suction cups. Behavioral state transition modeling showed that tagged whales switched to a non-foraging, non-resting state during both experimental transmissions of low-frequency active sonar from an approaching vessel (LFAS; 1-2 kHz, source level 214 dB re 1 µPa m, four tag records) and playbacks of potential predator (killer whale, Orcinus orca) sounds broadcast at naturally occurring sound levels as a positive control from a drifting boat (five tag records)...
January 2016: Ecological Applications: a Publication of the Ecological Society of America
Alana Alexander, Debbie Steel, Kendra Hoekzema, Sarah L Mesnick, Daniel Engelhaupt, Iain Kerr, Roger Payne, C Scott Baker
The interplay of natural selection and genetic drift, influenced by geographic isolation, mating systems and population size, determines patterns of genetic diversity within species. The sperm whale provides an interesting example of a long-lived species with few geographic barriers to dispersal. Worldwide mtDNA diversity is relatively low, but highly structured among geographic regions and social groups, attributed to female philopatry. However, it is unclear whether this female philopatry is due to geographic regions or social groups, or how this might vary on a worldwide scale...
June 2016: Molecular Ecology
Claire L Motion, Janet E Lovett, Stacey Bell, Scott L Cassidy, Paul A S Cruickshank, David R Bolton, Robert I Hunter, Hassane El Mkami, Sabine Van Doorslaer, Graham M Smith
This work demonstrates the feasibility of making sensitive nanometer distance measurements between Fe(III) heme centers and nitroxide spin labels in proteins using the double electron-electron resonance (DEER) pulsed EPR technique at 94 GHz. Techniques to measure accurately long distances in many classes of heme proteins using DEER are currently strongly limited by sensitivity. In this paper we demonstrate sensitivity gains of more than 30 times compared with previous lower frequency (X-band) DEER measurements on both human neuroglobin and sperm whale myoglobin...
April 21, 2016: Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Hirotoshi Matsumura, Saumen Chakraborty, Julian Reed, Yi Lu, Pierre Moënne-Loccoz
Denitrifying NO reductases are transmembrane protein complexes that utilize a heme/nonheme diiron center at their active sites to reduce two NO molecules to the innocuous gas N2O. Fe(B)Mb proteins, with their nonheme iron sites engineered into the heme distal pocket of sperm whale myoglobin, are attractive models for studying the molecular details of the NO reduction reaction. Spectroscopic and structural studies of Fe(B)Mb constructs have confirmed that they reproduce the metal coordination spheres observed at the active site of the cytochrome c-dependent NO reductase from Pseudomonas aeruginosa...
April 12, 2016: Biochemistry
Andrea Fais, Tim P Lewis, Daniel P Zitterbart, Omar Álvarez, Ana Tejedor, Natacha Aguilar Soto
Sperm whales are present in the Canary Islands year-round, suggesting that the archipelago is an important area for this species in the North Atlantic. However, the area experiences one of the highest reported rates of sperm whale ship-strike in the world. Here we investigate if the number of sperm whales found in the archipelago can sustain the current rate of ship-strike mortality. The results of this study may also have implications for offshore areas where concentrations of sperm whales may coincide with high densities of ship traffic, but where ship-strikes may be undocumented...
2016: PloS One
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