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Sperm whale

Cinzia Centelleghe, Giorgia Beffagna, Giuseppe Palmisano, Giovanni Franzo, Cristina Casalone, Alessandra Pautasso, Federica Giorda, Fabio Di Nocera, Doriana Iaccarino, Mario Santoro, Giovanni Di Guardo, Sandro Mazzariol
Dolphin morbillivirus (DMV) has caused several mortality events in Mediterranean striped (Stenella coeruleoalba) and bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) dolphins populations since 19; in the last 5 years, the virus was reported to infect new hosts in this basin, such as fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), and even a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina). Very recently, a calf Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) calf stranded on the Southern Italian coastline with mild pathological findings suggestive of morbilliviral infection, received the first confirmation of DMV infection in this species by biomolecular evidences on lung tissue...
2017: Frontiers in Microbiology
Mark S Springer, John Gatesy
Various toothed whales (Odontoceti) are unique among mammals in lacking olfactory bulbs as adults and are thought to be anosmic (lacking the olfactory sense). At the molecular level, toothed whales have high percentages of pseudogenic olfactory receptor genes, but species that have been investigated to date retain an intact copy of the olfactory marker protein gene (OMP), which is highly expressed in olfactory receptor neurons and may regulate the temporal resolution of olfactory responses. One hypothesis for the retention of intact OMP in diverse odontocete lineages is that this gene is pleiotropic with additional functions that are unrelated to olfaction...
February 10, 2017: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Bruce R Mate, Ladd M Irvine, Daniel M Palacios
The development of high-resolution archival tag technologies has revolutionized our understanding of diving behavior in marine taxa such as sharks, turtles, and seals during their wide-ranging movements. However, similar applications for large whales have lagged behind due to the difficulty of keeping tags on the animals for extended periods of time. Here, we present a novel configuration of a transdermally attached biologging device called the Advanced Dive Behavior (ADB) tag. The ADB tag contains sensors that record hydrostatic pressure, three-axis accelerometers, magnetometers, water temperature, and light level, all sampled at 1 Hz...
January 2017: Ecology and Evolution
Sandro Mazzariol, Cinzia Centelleghe, Andrea Di Provvido, Ludovica Di Renzo, Giusy Cardeti, Antonella Cersini, Gianluca Fichi, Antonio Petrella, Cristina Esmeralda Di Francesco, Walter Mignone, Cristina Casalone, Giovanni Di Guardo
In September 2014, seven sperm whales were stranded along Italy's Adriatic coastline. Postmortem investigations on 3 female adult whales and 1 male fetus carried by the largest female revealed molecular and immunohistochemical evidence of dolphin morbillivirus infection. A possible role of the virus in the stranding event was considered.
January 2017: Emerging Infectious Diseases
D Ann Pabst, William A McLellan, Sentiel A Rommel
Mesoplodont beaked whales are extreme divers, diving for over 45 mins and to depths of over 800 m. These dives are of similar depth and duration to those of the giant sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) whose body mass can be 50 times larger. Velten et al. (2013) provided anatomical data that demonstrated that on-board oxygen stores were sufficient to aerobically support the extreme dives of mesoplodonts if their diving metabolic rates are low. Because no physiological data yet exist, we utilized an anatomical approach-the body composition technique-to examine the relative metabolic rates of mesoplodonts...
December 2016: Integrative and Comparative Biology
Tomokazu Shibata, Yuki Kanai, Ryu Nishimura, Liyang Xu, Yuki Moritaka, Akihiro Suzuki, Saburo Neya, Mikio Nakamura, Yasuhiko Yamamoto
We introduced trifluoromethyl (CF3) group(s) as heme side chain(s) of sperm whale myoglobin (Mb) in order to characterize the electronic nature of heme Fe(II) in deoxy Mb using (19)F NMR spectroscopy. On the basis of the anti-Curie behavior of CF3 signals, we found that the deoxy Mb is in thermal equilibrium between the (5)B2, (dxy)(2)(dxz)(dyz)(dz(2))(dx(2)-y(2)), and (5)E, (dxy)(dxz)(2)(dyz)(dz(2))(dx(2)-y(2)), states of the heme Fe(II), i.e., (5)B2 ⇆ (5)E. Analysis of the curvature in Curie plots has yielded for the first time ΔH and ΔS values of ∼-20 kJ mol(-1) and ∼-60 J K(-1) mol(-1), respectively, for the thermal equilibrium...
December 5, 2016: Inorganic Chemistry
Emily T Griffiths, Jay Barlow
Drifting acoustic recorders were deployed in the southern California Current during Fall 2014. Two hydrophones configured as a 2-m vertical array at 100 m depth recorded using a 192 kHz sample rate on a 10% duty cycle (2 min/20 min). Beaked whales were detected in 33 of 8618 two-minute recordings. Sperm whales were detected in 185 recordings, and dolphins in 2291 recordings. Many beaked whales detected were over an abyssal plain and not associated with slope or seamount features. Results show the feasibility of using free-floating recording systems to detect a variety of cetacean species over periods of several months...
November 2016: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Mauricio Cantor, Hal Whitehead, Shane Gero, Luke Rendell
While populations may wax and wane, it is rare for an entire population to be replaced by a completely different set of individuals. We document the large-scale relocation of cultural groups of sperm whale off the Galápagos Islands, in which two sympatric vocal clans were entirely replaced by two different ones. Between 1985 and 1999, whales from two clans (called Regular and Plus-One) defined by cultural dialects in coda vocalizations were repeatedly photo-identified off Galápagos. Their occurrence in the area declined through the 1990s; by 2000, none remained...
October 2016: Royal Society Open Science
Giacomo Giorli, Anna Neuheimer, Adrienne Copeland, Whitlow W L Au
Beaked and sperm whales are top predators living in the waters off the Kona coast of Hawai'i. Temporal and spatial analyses of the foraging activity of these two species were studied with passive acoustics techniques. Three passive acoustics recorders moored to the ocean floor were used to monitor the foraging activity of these whales in three locations along the Kona coast of the island of Hawaii. Data were analyzed using automatic detector/classification systems: M3R (Marine Mammal Monitoring on Navy Ranges), and custom-designed Matlab programs...
October 2016: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
L Rendell, A Frantzis
First observed in the classical era, a population of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) persists to this day in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Genetic and observational evidence support the notion that this is an isolated population, separated from its Atlantic neighbours. These whales depend on mesopelagic squid for food, and appear to occupy a very similar ecological niche to sperm whales in the open oceans. Recent evidence proving that individuals can pass between the eastern and western deep water basins confirms that this is a single population, not isolated into western and eastern stocks...
2016: Advances in Marine Biology
G Notarbartolo di Sciara
Despite being a small part of the world's oceans, the Mediterranean Sea hosts a diverse marine mammal fauna, with a total of 28 different species known to occur, or to have occurred, in the region. Species currently recognised as regular in the Mediterranean-the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) and 11 cetaceans (fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus; sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus; Cuvier's beaked whale, Ziphius cavirostris; short-beaked common dolphin, Delphinus delphis; long-finned pilot whale, Globicephala melas; Risso's dolphin, Grampus griseus; killer whale, Orcinus orca; striped dolphin, Stenella coeruleoalba; rough-toothed dolphin, Steno bredanensis; common bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus; harbour porpoise, Phocoena phocoena relicta) have adapted well to the region's environmental conditions, but their coexistence with humans is problematic...
2016: Advances in Marine Biology
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...
November 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. edeni 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)...
October 1, 2016: Journal of Veterinary Medical Science
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