Bites at Animal Planet

Oceans

19 Mar

Luna the Otter is Ready for March Madness

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Luna, Shedd’s rescued sea otter pup is in the March Madness spirit playing with one of her new favorite toys – a basketball! Courtesy: Shedd Aquarium

Now that March Madness has officially kicked off, those 64 basketball teams aren't the only ones hoping for some magic this championship season. The Shedd Aquarium's otter, Luna, has been showing off her own basketball skills with a newly acquired favorite toy: a basketball!

We don't know about you, but we wish we had put Luna in our March madness brackets!

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Shedd Aquarium’s rescued sea otter, Luna loves March Madness! Think she’s dreaming about her Final Four picks? Courtesy: Shedd Aquarium

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11 Mar

Co-Creator of the 'Simpsons,' Sam Simon, Passes Away; Sea Shepherd Team Remembers His Contributions

Samsimon2

Sam Simon, co-creator of the Simpsons, vowed to give away his entire fortune to charity after being diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012.

He died Sunday, March 8, having kept his word, donating incalculable amounts of money to various organizations: PETA, Save the Children, Mercy for Animals, the Sam Simon Foundation, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

His Sea Shepherd contribution hits home here at Animal Planet, funding one of the vessels featured on Whale Wars.

In 2012, Simon donated money to Sea Shepherd to purchase the fourth ship in its fleet, which was proudly named after the long time animal rights activist and television executive. The Sam Simon joined the Bob BarkerSteve Irwin, and Brigitte Bardot. 

Samsimon one

The Sam Simon, and the three others in its fleet, plan to carry out the organization's mission: "to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species," and confront the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese whaling fleet.

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25 Feb

Life After Death for a Whale

Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale) from Sweet Fern Productions on Vimeo.

 

It's easy to feel sad after a death. It's permanent, after all, right? Maybe not.

Death might be permanent on the individual level, but if you step back and look at things in the big picture, it's not so black and white. The beautiful animated short from Sweet Fern Productions above shows exactly how a dead whale "lives on" by feeding the other species that share its ecosystem.

The food web connects all of us to all of the other life surrounding us. And Earth is teeming with life. When any organism dies, its individuality might go away but its body and its energy simply shift into other life forms, and that's a pretty cool thought. 

Whale RIP

Protect Wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation. 

20 Feb

Young Sea Lions Abandoned, Rescue Workers Concerned

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Sarah van Schagen (TMMC)

Two motorists found a young sea lion yearling along Skyline Boulevard in San Francisco a week ago Wednesday. The male yearling was nearly 1,000 feet from the ocean and had apparently dragged himself uphill, according to the San Francisco Gate.

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Sarah van Schagen (TMMC)

Luckily for the pup, National Park Ranger Matt Wallat was driving along the same stretch of road and noticed the motorists protecting the yearling from traffic. He was able to swaddle it with blankets and place it in a plastic tote bag he had with him. He then brought the sea lion to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, where he was given the honor of naming him Percevero.

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21 Jan

Orcas in the Wild Put On a REAL Show Worth Seeing, Off California Coast

Paddle boarder Rich German has always dreamt of seeing Orcas in the wild. Well, earlier this month, his dream came true ... and it was SPECTACULAR:

Orcas-wild-video
Photo: YouTube image

Gray whales, blue whales and orcas can be seen off the coast of Southern California this time of year making their annual migration. Though, orcas are not as commonly seen.  But, thanks to German, he captured the beautiful footage for all of us to now enjoy! Check out his full video which happened off the coast of Laguna Beach, Calif. a couple weeks ago:

 

For more on the latest in orca news, visit our friends at The Dodo >>

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7 Nov

Prepare Yourself for Cute Overload: Shedd Aquarium Rescues Orphaned Sea Otter Pup

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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

We couldn't send you off into the weekend without something ridiculously cute to look at, so enjoy awwing at the cuteness of Otter 681, who just arrived at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium as part of a joint rescue effort with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the United States Fish and Wildlife Services.

The orphaned six-pound female pup arrived at Shedd last Tuesday after living the first four weeks of her life at Monterey Bay in order to make sure was stabilized.

"Pup 681’s situation was urgent. As an organization dedicated to marine mammal care and conservation, we were perfectly positioned to ensure that this little pup had a home, providing the long-term care needed to survive," Tim Binder, Vice President of Animal Collections for Shedd, said in a statement. "This rescued animal provides an opportunity for us to learn more about the biological and behavioral attributes of this threatened species and to encourage people to preserve and protect them in the wild."

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©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

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17 Oct

Shark Feeding Frenzy Is Nearly On Shore

Land Shark?! This unusual event was captured on a North Carolina beach last week, reminding us that sharks are indeed among us. We have no information as to what species of shark they were, but likely one of these sharks native to the area, and local news reports "masses" of Blacktip sharks on the Carolina coast this week. The YouTube post suggests they were feeding on blue fish, and you can see that pelicans and other sea birds are keen on picking up the scraps. Check out the thrashing caudal (tail) fin action! 

Check out Discovery News for more information on this encounter. Then see out our collection of amazing shark videos, as well as our LIVE Shark Cam!


Live video by Animal Planet L!ve

See another feeding frenzy!

2 Oct

35,000 Walruses Crowd Alaskan Shores as Sea Ice Fails to Form

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Credit: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/NMML

In a somewhat alarming sight, nearly 35,000 walruses have gathered onto Alaskan shores - the result of increasing global warming, according to The Washington Post.

In previous years, walruses would typically navigate north as the sea ice melted and then head south again when it returned. The sea ice serves as a refuge for the walrus, who need considerable rest time between diving deep to the sea floor for food. However, in 2007, the sea ice did not form - which lead to the walruses having to take refuge on Alaskan shores.

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Credit: Corey Accardo/NOAA/NMFS/NMML

Although it is a sight to behold - walrus are quite comical looking with their wrinkles and large tusks - it is actually fairly dangerous for the animals. Close quarters means disease spreads quickly, food runs out, animals such as brown and polar bears are nearby, and a slight disturbance can lead to a stampede.

As Margaret Williams, managing director for the World Wildlife Fund's Arctic program, told the Guardian, "It becomes like a giant pig pile. You have all these animals that are normally distributed on a flat surface. When they lose their sea ice habitat and come ashore in places that are accessible – like flat, sandy beaches – they gather in large numbers. … When they are disturbed it can cause stampedes in large numbers."

So what can be done to help these animals? According to the Post, "Short of immediately reversing global warming, scientists in the Arctic can only do damage control." The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed adding the Pacific walrus to the endangered species list and the Federal Aviation Administration has asked that flights not fly through the area as walrus are skittish and the disturbance could cause a stampede.

Learn more about the arctic and what the WWF is doing to help here.

23 Sep

5 Facts You Otter Know About Sea Otters

Happy Sea Otter Awareness Week
Photo Credit: Rolf Hicker/Getty Images

It's Sea Otter Awareness Week, and we're otterly excited to put the spotlight on these amazingly cute and intelligent superstars of the marine world! On Animal Planet L!VE, we invite you to take a look into the natural habitat of California's southern sea otter on the LIVE Sea Otter Cam, powered by our partners at seaotters.com. While you watch wild sea otters swim, play and socialize on the cam, here are 5 exciting facts you otter know about sea otters!

1. Sea otters are social animals and a group of them is called a raft.

To humans, rafting is a sport or a leisurely weekend activity, but to otters rafting is a way of life!  If you see one otter, there’s a good chance that many more are swimming nearby.  Sea otters prefer to swim in same-sex groups called rafts. These groups can range from just ten otters to larger groups of hundreds or thousands. Something cute to note is that rafting sea otters can often be seen holding each others' paws to prevent themselves from floating apart while sleeping.

 

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Photo Credit: Arthur Morris/Corbis

 

2. Baby sea otters are absolutely adorable, but it’s hard work being a sea otter mom.

Can you imagine being a new mother and having to swim through waves with an infant sleeping on your stomach? Sea otter moms do it all the time.

 

Born in the water with only the ability to float, sea otter pups cannot swim until they reach 2 months old and shed their newborn fur coat (lanugo).  During this time frame, the female otter serves as her baby’s crib, ferry, groomer, and feeder

 

At 2 months old, an otter pup will learn to swim and dive on its own, but life doesn’t get any easier for mom until the pup is weaned after 6 months of age. This is due mainly to the fact that sea otters do not have blubber to keep them warm. In order to regulate temperature, an adult otter must eat approximately 25% of their body weight each day and that doesn't even include the additional amounts mothers need to eat to nurse their babies.

 

According to a June 2014 research study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, a female sea otter requires 14 hours of hunting per day to gain enough energy and nutrition to care for a 6 month old pup. Unfortunately, this means that otter mothers are more suceptible to health issues and mortality by the time the pup can be weaned. Some otters will abandon their babies to ensure their own survival, particularly when faced with food limitations within an area.

 

Since sea otters normally give birth to one pup every year, an otter mom's job really is never done!

 

3. Sea Otters are one of the few mammals on earth that use tools to hunt and eat.

Most of us will admire sea otters for their cute looks and silly antics, but they're also a smart species. They belong to a small club of mammals that use tools to hunt and eat. Since shellfish like clams and crab make up a large portion of their diet, sea otters have to find clever ways to crack their shells open. This is usually done by finding a rock, placing it on their stomach, and then hammering the shellfish into the rock until it yields the meat within.

 

Even cooler is the fact that sea otters have their own convenient hiding places for their favorite rocks. Each of their forelegs has a pocket of skin which can be used to safely store the otter's tool of choice and their freshly caught prey while diving to and from the surface.

 

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15 Sep

Giant Manta Ray Seeks Help from Nearby Divers

C59afTwo divers went on the dive of a lifetime and were able to help a manta ray after the creature swam up to them in Costa Rican waters.

Brazilian Thomaz Monteiro and Canadian Brian Thompson saw the animal in the distance and watched as it swam closer. It was then that they saw that the female manta ray was tangled in rope from a fishing line, The Dodo reported. Thompson was able to remove the line, which left a small wound in her side, according to Ninemsn. Once they managed to free her, the manta ray swam around the divers for about 30 minutes before heading to deeper waters.

Watch the amazing video:

Want to learn more about manta rays? Watch this video!

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Welcome to the Bites @ Animal Planet, where you can connect with the people who bring Animal Planet to life. Find out what's in the works here at Animal Planet, share your feedback with the team and see what's getting our attention online and in the news.

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