Whales in the Gulf of Thailand | Bangkok Post: learning

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Whales in the Gulf of Thailand

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Finding a group of whales after a long search at sea is a very special sight, different from anything else. 


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Environment

A life aquatic

Bryde's whales justifiably take pride of place in the Gulf of Thailand's rich marine life
25/06/2012
Smith Sutibut

...Capt Chamroon shouted a sighting, and we quickly got out our binoculars to glean the horizon in the direction he indicated. Two whales were enjoying their lunch; from afar we could see their pink jaws contrasting with the blue of the ocean. We were all excited and hoped that they would not disappear like the last time.

We covered the distance quickly. Just before we approached, Capt Chamroon cut the engine. All eyes were on the mother-calf pair frolicking in the water and chasing fish fry. They left a wake like the line of a torpedo in the water. The moment the whales broke the surface to eat fish, our shutters clicked in unison. Adrenalin gushed, totally out of control.

Our boat kept a safe distance until the whales got used to us enough to act normally. I noticed the whales would swim and come up intermittently for air. You'll see the head skim the water first before it blows up a mist of water - not a fountain like in cartoons - before it dives, showing its back and dorsal fins. Normally its tail does not break the surface, although some whales may ''wave'' their tails. Lobtailing is probably a way of communicating, or even catching fish. Seeing a whale swimming can look misleadingly small, but in fact most of its bulk is underwater.

From the direction of their movements, I felt as if they were swimming under the boat, or coming up for air near the boat unexpectedly, blowing with a loud ''whoosh'' sound like an elephant spouting water from its trunk. The spray caught our skin, together with the smell of its breath which was not very inviting.

After it has rounded up the fish, it will lunge up to eat. We couldn't tell where it would appear.

Its head would come up at a right-angle before opening its jaws to spoon the fish into its mouth, while some small fish would try to jump out. Its appearance was totally unpredictable.

A Bryde's whale comes up at a right-angle first, then slowly open its jaws to an almost 180-degree angle. Its lower jaw acts like a huge net. Inside its mouth are hundreds of small fish trying to jump out to escape becoming dinner.

After a while it closes its mouth, expelling water through its ventral pleats before submerging again gently. Sometimes it skims the surface to eat, especially in shallower water where it can't get perpendicular. Usually they feed on the right side, and sometimes they flop into the water with a huge splash.

In addition to the mother-calf pair, there was another whale nearby, and yet another two or three more within a 500m radius. Looking out to the horizon, a few more could be seen, totalling at least 10 in all...

...We used to think that whales were found in the deep ocean only, not in shallow water, so why did these whales come into the inner Gulf of Thailand.

Plankton bloom is caused by the water from the north that washes down rich nutrients to the sea, turning the water green. The plankton, particularly Noctiluca scintillans, or sea sparkle, draws numerous types of fish such as anchovy, mackerel and krill, which in turn draws whales to come and feed...

...Today there are an estimated 35 whales, 30 of which can be identified and named. Identification is based on their shape, the scars on the dorsal fins and body, markings on the skin, the look of the ventral pleats, the colour and markings of the jaws...

(Source: Bangkok Post, Environment, A life aquatic, Bryde's whales justifiably take pride of place in the Gulf of Thailand's rich marine life, 25/06/2012, Smith Sutibut, link


Whale Vocabulary
 
whale - a very large sea animal that breathes air through a hole on the top of its head ปลาวาฬ (See Wikipedia)

Bryde's whales -
medium-sized whales that are dark gray in color with a white underbelly that live in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide (See Wikipedia and Google Images

aquatic - related to water
a life aquatic - something living in the water

justifiable (adjective) - there is a good reason for it
justifiably (adverb)

pride - a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction that you get when you, or someone connected with you, have achieved something special ความภาคภูมิใจ (example: pride about an accomplishment; pride in your daughter's high grades)
take pride of place - meaning: are the most impressive thing that people should see first

marine - relating to the sea and creatures that live in it เกี่ยวกับทะเล
marine life - living things (animals, plants, algae, bacteria, etc) living in the sea or ocean (salt water)

rich - interesting, with a lot of different qualities, experiences or events อุดมไปด้วย
rich marine life

Bryde's whales justifiably take pride of place in the Gulf of Thailand's rich marine life

sighting - seeing something (that is difficult to see) (examples: the sighting of the lockness monster or a rare bird)
binoculars - a piece of equipment that you hold against your eyes to see that are far away more clearly กล้องส่องทางไกล

glean - to find and pick up small amounts of somthing (example: to glean information out of a book, to glean small amounts of a crop laying in a field after being cut)

horizon - the line in the distance where the sky seems to meet the earth ขอบฟ้า
glean the horizon - look at place where the sea meets the water and try to find whales  

indicated -
showing something (with your hand, for example)
in the direction he indicated

contrasting
- being very different
pink jaws contrasting with the blue of the ocean
 
...Capt Chamroon shouted a sighting, and we quickly got out our binoculars to glean the horizon in the direction he indicated. Two whales were enjoying their lunch; from afar we could see their pink jaws contrasting with the blue of the ocean. We were all excited and hoped that they would not disappear like the last time.

covered the distance - go from one place to another; travel from one place to another
covered the distance quickly

cut the engine - turn off the engine (of the boat)

calf - 
animal baby
mother-calf pair

frolicking
- play
frolicking in the water

fish fry -
very small young fish
chasing fish fry

left a wake - made the water move (waves) behind them as they moved through the water

torpedo -
a long tube-like bomb that is shot under the water at ships and submarines to sink them
the line of a torpedo [as it travels through the water]

moment
- a very short period of time; a particular time or occasionชั่วขณะ, โอกาสสำคัญ

surface
- the top of the water
broke the surface - leave the water 

shutter -
the part of a camera that opens to let in light (meaning: the cameras)
shutters clicked in unison - the cameras clicked at the same time

adrenalin -
chemical produced by your body when you are frightened, excited or angry that makes your heart beat faster and gives you more energy, epinephrine (See Wikipedia)

gush - a large amount of water, liquid or gas passing quickly out of a place making a loud sound
adrenalin gushed

out of control
- moving around in a way that cannot be controlled

We covered the distance quickly. Just before we approached, Capt Chamroon cut the engine. All eyes were on the mother-calf pair frolicking in the water and chasing fish fry. They left a wake like the line of a torpedo in the water. The moment the whales broke the surface to eat fish, our shutters clicked in unison. Adrenalin gushed, totally out of control.

kept a safe distance

intermittently - from time to time; happening again and again after a period of time 
come up intermittently for air

skim -
move over the surface or top of something
see the head skim the water

mist -
spray, when water breaks up in the air like a sprinkler or light rain หมอก
blows up a mist of water

fountain -
a stream of solid water

dorsal -
on the back
dorsal fins

break the surface -
pass out of the water

its
tail does not break the surface
wave' their tails

lobtailing -
when a whale slaps its fins against the water; "when a whale or dolphin lifts its flukes out of the water and then bringing them down onto the surface of the water hard and fast in order to make a loud slap. Similarly, species with large flippers may also slap them against the water" (See Wikipedia)

communicating
- the process of sending information from one human or animal to another

mislead -
make you think or believe something that is not true
misleading
misleadingly
misleadingly small
look misleadingly small
- it looks small but is really large

bulk
- done in large numbers or amounts จำนวนมาก
bulk - large amounts เป็นจำนวนมาก เป็นกุรุศ
most of its bulk is underwater

Our boat kept a safe distance until the whales got used to us enough to act normally. I noticed the whales would swim and come up intermittently for air. You'll see the head skim the water first before it blows up a mist of water - not a fountain like in cartoons - before it dives, showing its back and dorsal fins. Normally its tail does not break the surface, although some whales may ''wave'' their tails. Lobtailing is probably a way of communicating, or even catching fish. Seeing a whale swimming can look misleadingly small, but in fact most of its bulk is underwater.

spout water - when a lot of water comes out of some opening (a pipe, a trunk, etc)

trunk - the very long nose of an elephant that it uses to lift food and water to its mouth
sound like an elephant spouting water from its trunk

spray -
water broken into many little pieces like rain or sprinklers; mist  หมอก
the spray caught our skin

inviting
- making you like it and come nearer
the smell of its breath was not very inviting


From the direction of their movements, I felt as if they were swimming under the boat, or coming up for air near the boat unexpectedly, blowing with a loud ''whoosh'' sound like an elephant spouting water from its trunk. The spray caught our skin, together with the smell of its breath which was not very inviting.

round up - gather, collect or bring together in one place (example: the cowboy rounded up the cows in the evening frm the fields)
lunge up -
move up quickly

at a right-angle - at a 90-degree angle, straight up
perpendicular - Same as "at a right angle"
180-degree angle

come up at a right-angle

spoon the fish into its mouth

unpredictable - do not know what is going to happen next ที่ไม่สามารถคาดเดาได้ 

After it has rounded up the fish, it will lunge up to eat. We couldn't tell where it would appear. Its head would come up at a right-angle before opening its jaws to spoon the fish into its mouth, while some small fish would try to jump out. Its appearance was totally unpredictable. A Bryde's whale comes up at a right-angle first, then slowly open its jaws to an almost 180-degree angle. Its lower jaw acts like a huge net. Inside its mouth are hundreds of small fish trying to jump out to escape becoming dinner.

pleats - a permanent fold (in clothing, for example) แบบพลีท จีบรอบ
ventral - on the stomach side of an animal
ventral pleats

submerging - going under the water

shallow
- not deep ตื้น  ที่ตื้นเขิน
shallower water

flop -
to move in a heavy, loose and uncontrolled way (example: she flopped on the bed after work, she was so tired)
flop into the water


splash -
making water fly out when hit

After a while it closes its mouth, expelling water through its ventral pleats before submerging again gently. Sometimes it skims the surface to eat, especially in shallower water where it can't get perpendicular. Usually they feed on the right side, and sometimes they flop into the water with a huge splash. In addition to the mother-calf pair, there was another whale nearby, and yet another two or three more within a 500m radius. Looking out to the horizon, a few more could be seen, totalling at least 10 in all...

plankton - very small animals that live near the surface of the sea and ocean and are eaten by fish (See Wikipedia)
plankton bloom - "a rapid increase or accumulation in the population of algae (typically microscopic) in an aquatic system. Algal blooms may occur in freshwater as well as marine environments. Typically, only one or a small number of phytoplankton species are involved, and some blooms may be recognized by discoloration of the water" (See Wikipedia)

nutrients - chemicals in food that a body needs to grow and live 

rich -
a very good and mixed collection of things
rich nutrients

sparkle
- to shine with small point of bright light ส่องแสงแวววาว, เกิดประกายไฟ 
numerous - many มากมาย

...We used to think that whales were found in the deep ocean only, not in shallow water, so why did these whales come into the inner Gulf of Thailand. Plankton bloom is caused by the water from the north that washes down rich nutrients to the sea, turning the water green. The plankton, particularly Noctiluca scintillans, or sea sparkle, draws numerous types of fish such as anchovy, mackerel and krill, which in turn draws whales to come and feed...

estimated

identify
(verb) - named; when something is given the name it has ระบุชื่อ
identification (noun)

shape - the outer form of something (circle, square, oval, rectangle)  รูปร่าง, , รูปแบบ, ฟอร์ม
scar - a mark on the skin where you have been injured and the skin broken  แผลเป็น
marking - something you can see on some object  เครื่องหมาย

...Today there are an estimated 35 whales, 30 of which can be identified and named. Identification is based on their shape, the scars on the dorsal fins and body, markings on the skin, the look of the ventral pleats, the colour and markings of the jaws...

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