How Killer Whales Went from Hated, to Adored, to Endangered

The more we’ve learned about orcas, the more we love them. But can they survive the dramatic changes to their world?

Can Today’s Whale Species Survive the Age of Humans?

We don’t even know how many whale species exist, so which will be winners and which losers is hard to guess.

See Hundreds of Beluga Whales Gathering in the Arctic

Up to 800 beluga whales gathered together north of Baffin Island in Lancaster Sound, Canada. They migrate here to give birth and molt dead skin. They're called the "canaries of the sea" for the many high-pitched vocalizations they use to communicate. Lancaster Sound is Canada's largest marine protected area, and contains other wildlife such as polar bears and seals.

Heart Monitors on Narwhals Reveal Dangers of Human Encounters

Narwhals swim the icy Arctic Ocean, and dive to its dark depths, so they're a challenge to study. To learn about their biology, scientists attached sensors to narwhals. Monitors tracked heart rate, swimming strokes, and diving depth, in a resting state, during a dive just after "escape," and later, in a normal dive. Suction cups on the sensors released, and they floated up for retrieval. Animal species tend to react to a threat in one of two ways: For some, stress raises the heart rate and activity level. Other species freeze up, and their heart rate lowers. Narwhals don't fit either pattern. When they're released from nets, narwhals' heart rate plummets, even as they speed away. So they burn through ready oxygen, pushing tissues' limits. Researchers fear low oxygen may hurt cognition, causing unsafe behaviours, and adding to the risk narwhals face from human presence. Find out why Narwhals have such distinctive tusks.