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New population of blue whales discovered
The population likely spends most of it's time in the northwestern Indian Ocean, in the Arabian Sea and to the west of the Chagos.

Researchers identify group living in Indian Ocean by it's unique song

A team of researchers has found a previously unknown population of blue whales living in the Indian Ocean, after identifying an unrecognised whale song in the area.

Although blue whales are difficult to find, every population has it's own unique song, which is hugely helpful to researchers. This new song was first detected in 2017 in the Mozambique Channel off Madagascar by Dr Salvatore Cerchio, the director of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund's Cetacean Programme.

Dr Cerchio was also working with a team of scientists collecting acoustic recordings off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea, who also picked up the unique song.

“It was quite remarkable,” he said, “to find a whale song in your data that was completely unique, never before reported, and recognize it as a blue whale.

“With all that work on blue whale songs, to think there was a population out there that no one knew about until 2017, well, it kind of blows your mind.”

After reporting their findings to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 2018, the team was contacted by Emmanuelle Leroy from the University of New South Wales, Australia, who recognised that his team had recorded the same song off the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean.

As the collaborative team grew and analysed their shared data, they concluded that this new population likely spends most of it's time in the northwestern Indian Ocean, in the Arabian Sea and to the west of the Chagos.

The importance of this new discovering is heightened by the fact that some researchers consider both the northern Indian Ocean blue whales and Arabian Sea humpback whales to comprise unique subspecies, not simply populations, making them particularly important to biodiversity.

A published paper about the new population can be found in the journal Endangered Species Research.

Image (c) Robert Baldwin, Environment Society of Oman.


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Born Free video highlights how humans are to blame for COVID-19

News Story 1
 Wildlife charity Born Free has released a video emphasising the importance of changing the ways in which humans treat wildlife in order to prevent pandemics from occurring in the future.

The video, narrated by founder patron Joanna Lumley OBE, says: "To deal with the very immediate threat of another global catastrophe, we have to focus on ending the destruction and conversion of natural habitats and the devastating impact of the wildlife trade.

"The vast majority of these viruses originated in wild animals before infecting us. Destroying and exploiting nature puts us in closer contact with wildlife than ever before."

Born Free has compiled an online resource with information on how to take action and improve protections for wildlife here.

To view the video, please click here.

Images (c) Jan Schmidt-Burbach. 

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RVC opens 2021 Summer Schools applications

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has opened applications for its 2021 Summer Schools, with students in Years 10, 11 and 12 invited to apply.

Taking place between July and August 2021, the event gives budding vets from all backgrounds first-hand insight into what it's like to study at the Campus.

Much of this year's content is likely to be delivered virtually, including online lectures and practical demonstrations, but the RVC hopes to welcome each of the participants to campus for at least one day to gain some hands-on experience.

For more information about the Schools and to apply, visit: Applications close on the 2 March 2021.