Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blue Sea Creatures: Fly By the Wind and Land on the Beach

There they were, those fabulously blue and clear glass, ummm, well, what are these clumps of electric blue-see-through-kind of-jellyfish-like things on the beach???
Photo credit:  Wikipedia Commons

C. Coimbra Photo
C. Coimbra Photo
Some people call these electric blue visitors, By-the-Wind Sailors because they blow in from the middle of the Pacific Ocean where the water is warmer.  

Their real name is Velella velella and they are cnidarians (a sea-life form than includes jellyfish and coral and with out a backbone or spine). 

The last time these sailors landed on West Coast beaches was in 2006. Scientists don't know why they sometimes wash up on the beach.  They are not dangerous.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Does a Whale Sleep?

Two humpback whales feeding in Monterey Bay

How does a whale sleep in the ocean? Caught with a GoPro camera on a drone, this sleeping humpback whale just drifts along at the water's surface.  

Whales, like humans, are mammals and must breathe air, right?  Because we live on land, we don't have to worry about breathing when we sleep.  But whales, how do they do this?

Scientists believe that whales don’t sleep at all like humans because they must “think” at all times about breathing.
 “…unlike fish, whales do not have gills which fish use to extract oxygen from the water, so (whales) must come to the surface get their oxygen.”
“Depending on the species whales are able to hold their breath anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour.” That means that whales are always aware of their breathing and need for oxygen.
So, whales must always think breathing—even when asleep—because if they ignore their need to surface and breathe, they would drown.  This is called “conscious breathing.”
Fortunately, marine mammals have very special lungs. The can bring in more oxygen from the air than humans.  
Learn more on Whale Facts.