How old is this whale ? A new way to tell

The ocean update

Humpback-whale-tailAn improved technique could reveal volumes about humpbacks’ lives

April 6th, 2014 (Kevin Hartnett). WHALES OCCUPY an outsized place in our imagination. They are mammals, like us, but grand and mysterious, from their enormous size to their social lives to the great depths they swim in.

For all our fascination with whales, there’s also a surprising amount we don’t know about them—including basic information like how old individual whales are, or how long they’re capable of living. Marine researchers have long sought an accurate technique for “aging” whales, because knowing how old whales are is key to answering many other questions about their lives. But such a technique has been elusive—until now.

Last month researchers at the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, in conjunction with a team of biologists from Australia, announced they had found a new, and, they believe, much more accurate way to determine the ages of…

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