Bites at Animal Planet

Oceans

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

NOAA-walruses-ashore1-800w
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.

NOAA-walruses-ashore2-800w
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.

 

sea otter pup
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.

 

Continue reading >

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!

25 Aug

Moray Eel Eats Lionfish

It's an eel-eat-fish world out there!  Check out this video below of a spotted moray eel attacking and eating a lionfish.  

Pay special attention to the eel's hunting technique. It bites the lionfish in the middle of its body and uses its double set of jaws to both hold and cut the lionfish in half. Then it pulls the lionfish through its coils and tears it in two. It's pretty amazing to watch!

 

Eel:1, Lionfish: 0!

Continue reading >

8 Jul

Too Cute Tuesday: Germany’s First Walrus Pup is Born

 

On June 15, an adorable, whiskered male walrus pup was born at Hamburg’s Hagenbeck Zoo. But this isn’t an ordinary walrus pup.

Why? Because he is the first and only walrus to be born in Germany. The zoo’s website states that this group of walruses (the pup’s mother and enclosure mates) came to them about a year ago from the Moscow Zoo to fulfill the dream of Tierpark Hagenbeck to host the only walrus breeding group in Germany. And their dreams have come true! This little guy doesn’t have a name yet, but it will be decided by zoo visitors.

Continue reading >

6 Jun

What Could Kill a 9-Foot Great White Shark?

Eating-sharks-250For all those thinking the sharks may be the greatest predator in the water, new findings might cause a bit of alarm. There's something out there eating 9-foot great white sharks.

As part of a new shark tracking program, scientists tagged a healthy 9-foot female great white shark off the Australian coast. Then, four months later, the tracking device was discovered by a beach comber about two-and-a-half miles from where the shark was originally tagged.

When the scientists reviewed the recovered device, they found a rapid temperature rise - from the mid-40s to the high-70s - and a 1,900-foot change in depth. Both can be explained by the animal "living" within the stomach of something much larger. To date, this is all the information scientists have.

Is there a giant creature out there feasting on great whites? Watch the video below and decide.

Could it be megalodon?

Continue reading >

20 May

Scuba Diver Encounters Shark -- and Lives to Tell the Tale

8xjwnA scuba diver off the coast of Florida's Vero Beach had a close encounter with a shark - and caught it all on his GoPro camera, according to an article in the NY Daily News.

Jimmy Roseman, a West Melbourne native, ran into the shark while he was 90-feet under water. The shark circled him several times and when he got too close, Roseman prodded him with his spear gun to scare him off.

Check out the video below:

Want more up-close encounters with mystifying creatures?

Tune in to Monster Week - all this week at 8PM E/P, with River Monsters specials starting at 9PM E/P.

Check out another shark of the deep when Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives airs Sunday, May 25 at 7PM E/P.

9 May

Curious Shark Nibbles on Inflatable Boat

Recently, the crew from Max Animal had the encounter of a lifetime when an inquisitive Great White Shark started chomping on their inflatable boat. According to the crew, they were filming for their youtube channel somewhere off the coast of South Africa when the shark decided to 'investigate' their boat.

While this was undoubtedly a frightening experience, it was one with a happy ending. All parties involved (including the shark!) swamp away unharmed.

Check out the incredible footage below

2 May

Sixty-ton Whale Lands on Canadian Shores, Could Explode

Exploding-whale-500w

It's problem enough that a 60-ton whale carcass landed on the shores of a small fishing town in Newfoundland, but residents have legitimate concerns over the possibility that the carcass could explode. As explained by The Atlantic, during decomposition, gases such as methane build up inside the carcass. In this particular case, the whale ballooned to nearly double its size.

As of today, it appears that the whale has shrunk in scale and an explosion may not be imminent. How do we know? Marine science communicators at Upwell and Southern Fried Science created a site that provides status updates. You can check it out here.

For now, citizens of the small town will just have to deal with the stench and hope it doesn't impact their tourist season.

For more on the actually quite interesting history of whale explosions, check out The Atlantic's article.

See more Monster content on Monster Week! Starts May 18 at 8PM E/P!

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