Ten years ago, the crew of the San Aspiring fishing vessel, which was on the hunt for Antarctic toothfish, pulled in a longline and discovered they had caught something unexpected. It was a huge, red blob—a deep-sea-dwelling colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni) that had also been hunting for toothfish more than a mile below the surface. Recognizing they had something unique on their hands, the crew hauled the now-deceased squid onboard and froze its body.
Back in October 2014, Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist, took the stage at TEDGlobal to deliver a 6-minute speech called “Why you should care about whale poo.” She spoke passionately about the devastating effects 200 years of whaling had on global whale populations. She argued that these animals’ importance extends far beyond their charismatic beauty. Rather, as “ecosystem engineers,” she said whales play an important role in maintaining the health of Earth’s oceans.
For decades, there have been mysterious reports about humpback whales coming to the rescue when animals are being attacked by orcas (large black-and-white dolphins known as “killer whales“). But why would humpbacks spend energy risking their own safety to help others? Could this be an example of animals acting selflessly?
Finally, some good news for the littlest marine mammal you’ve probably never heard of—the vaquita (va-KEE-tah)! Mexican authorities recently announced a permanent ban on the use of gillnets in this endangered species’ home range, a protected area of the upper Gulf of California. Hopefully, the ban will reduce the number of vaquitas that become entangled in fishing nets meant to catch other species.