Natural History

Monthly Archive: December Natu

When Things Go Wrong for Right Whales

Posted: March 8, 2018 - 10:44 , by Hellen Fu
Carcass of right whale floating in ocean, researchers on large dinghy

Guest blog written by Environmental Visual Communication student Viridiana Jimenez

The death of seventeen right whales in 2017 represents a loss of over 3% of the population. The significance of this loss has sent the scientific community into a panic. Their deaths were primarily caused by ship collisions or entanglements with fishing gear. As frequent visitors to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we must now work together to save this species from extinction.

When Whaling is Your Tradition

Posted: February 27, 2018 - 15:35 , by Hellen Fu
Inuit community standing on and near a recently hunted bowhead whale on beach

Guest blog written by Environmental Visual Communication student Ursula McClintock

In some Indigenous communities around the world, whaling is as much a part of their tradition as my family’s turkey dinner at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Whale hunting has played an integral role in feeding Inuit communities for millennia. Bowhead whales, among many other species of whales, were hunted to near extinction at the turn of the 20th century. Yet more often than not, Indigenous communities are cast in the same light as the commercial groups that are responsible for the near collapse of populations of these iconic marine animals.

What is it? Unexpected Life in Downtown Toronto

Posted: February 14, 2018 - 12:51 , by Antonia Guidotti
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Ostracoda, Podocopida. photo by Antonia Guidotti

ROM Natural History staff often receive specimens for identification.

In entomology, they frequently receive and identify common household pests, however, they recently received something a little bit more unusual. A community centre in the city, operating an Aquaponics lab, sent in a sample of some tiny, mysterious critters they found on the roots of their plants. Concerned they may be causing the plants harm, they were hoping the staff at the ROM could give them some insight as to what they were.

Trees for Life in Lakefield

Posted: February 8, 2018 - 10:46 , by Hellen Fu
Children playing in a large tree

Guest blog written by Environmental Visual Communication student Fenella Hood

When Rebecca Rose left her home in Leslieville and moved her three young children to the quaint village of Lakefield, she felt secure in the belief that she was improving their lot in life. Then one day a notice was slipped through her door from the Township of Selwyn announcing her next-door neighbour's severance application to build a second house and increase his selling power. His small corner lot boasts a stand of seven mature trees that will need to be cut down to make room for the build. “It felt like being kicked in the stomach. I don't want those trees to die, and I don't want to tell my kids.”

From Poop to Plankton: Working Together to Conserve our Ocean’s Gardeners

Posted: November 6, 2017 - 16:41 , by Stacey Kerr
Asha de Vos, P.h.D. holds two bottles of freshly collected blue whale poop off the coast of Sri Lanka. Photo Credit: Oceanswell

Guest blog written by Environmental Visual Communication student Meghan Callon

From the ROM’s recent “Out of the Depths” Blue Whale Exhibition to the upcoming Canada’s Oceans: Towards 2020 Symposium, the ROM has had a big focus on our oceans this year. In fact, there have been many eyes on Canada’s oceans recently. The Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference was held in Halifax, NS, just two weeks ago, bringing together some of the greatest ocean thinkers from around the world. There, Dr. Asha de Vos gave a keynote speech describing her journey to understanding how blue whales act as our ocean’s gardeners. Check out this blog to learn more about the incredible story of blue whale poop and the researcher who studies it!

True Blue Detectives

Posted: September 4, 2017 - 12:22 , by Stacey Kerr
ROM technician Oliver Haddrath extracting a DNA sample from blue whale tissue. Photo by Connor McDowell

Guest blog written by 2017 Environmental Visual Communication student Connor McDowell

The Royal Ontario Museum has marked yet another first for science with the Blue Whale Project. This achievement could hold keys to the conservation of this majestic, endangered mammal – not to mention a deeper understanding of the unique evolutionary history of the largest living animal on Earth. The beginning of this story starts two thousand kilometers away, on the shores of Newfoundland, Canada with something so small that you can't see it with the naked eye.

Hippos and Whales: Unlikely Cousins

Posted: August 24, 2017 - 13:32 , by Stacey Kerr
Whales and hippos share a common ancestor. Photo by: http://www.statedclearly.com/

Guest blog written by Environmental Visual Communication student Natasha Hirt

What do hippos and whales have in common? A tonne. It may seem surprising that hippos are the closest living relative to whales. At the ROM's Blue Whale Exhibition, visitors can explore what whales and other marine mammals looked like over 50 million years ago. 

Our Future is Deep in the Ocean

Posted: August 15, 2017 - 13:36 , by Stacey Kerr
蓝鲸展馆的由来。| Entrance to the Blue Whale Exhibition. 照片由吴昊康 | Photo by Shawn Wu

Guest blog written by 2017 Environmental Visual Communication student Shawn Wu 

Written in Mandarin, this is a story about the Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story exhibition and the powerful role these magnificent creatures play in our oceans.  

Singing the Blues: The Mystery of B105

Posted: August 9, 2017 - 14:23 , by Stacey Kerr
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A blue whale diving into the Gulf of St Lawrence off the coast of Gaspé. Photo by René Roy

Guest blog written by 2017 Environmental Visual Communication student Viridiana Jimenez

The ocean’s largest and most iconic animal, the blue whale, can produce sounds that cross entire oceans and can be heard from one end of the planet to the other. With humans’ increased presence in the oceans, how are these charismatic giants affected by—and adapting to—our noisy activities? In this blog we follow the story of a single whale, B105 “Invasor”, and muse on how it may have changed its ways to contend with our cacophony.

The Woman Behind the Biggest Heart in the World

Posted: August 2, 2017 - 19:12 , by Stacey Kerr
ROM Mammalogy technician Jacqueline Miller with sword in hand in a fencing match - always up for a challenge. Photo credit Jacqueline Miller

Guest Blog written by 2017 Environmental Visual Communication student Fenella Hood

Knife in hand and knee-deep in rotting blubber, Jacqueline Miller is about to do something that has never been done before: carve out a blue whale's heart for preservation. Enveloped in its stench and racing against decay, she cuts deep into the tissue beneath, sure in her knowledge of anatomy but ever wondering: Will this even work? Read on to learn more about one of the team members behind the world's biggest heart in this blog by EVC student Fennella Hood.