Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Edward Snowden and Reason...

A letter has recently been published which I think we would all do well to read.  History is written by the victors, and we should all do well to help Reason be not defeated.


Snowden's Dad SCHOOLS Obama, Pelosi, and Holder in Open Letter

Dees Illustration
Activist Post

Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution

Dear Mr. President:

You are acutely aware that the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices. As Edmund Burke sermonized, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Civil disobedience is not the first, but the last option. Henry David Thoreau wrote with profound restraint in Civil Disobedience: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”

Thoreau’s moral philosophy found expression during the Nuremburg trials in which “following orders” was rejected as a defense. Indeed, military law requires disobedience to clearly illegal orders.

A dark chapter in America’s World War II history would not have been written if the then United States Attorney General had resigned rather than participate in racist concentration camps imprisoning 120,000 Japanese American citizens and resident aliens.

Civil disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act and Jim Crow laws provoked the end of slavery and the modern civil rights revolution.

We submit that Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures of dragnet surveillance of Americans under § 215 of the Patriot Act, § 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments, or otherwise were sanctioned by Thoreau’s time-honored moral philosophy and justifications for civil disobedience. Since 2005, Mr. Snowden had been employed by the intelligence community. He found himself complicit in secret, indiscriminate spying on millions of innocent citizens contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the First and Fourth Amendments and the transparency indispensable to self-government. Members of Congress entrusted with oversight remained silent or Delphic. Mr. Snowden confronted a choice between civic duty and passivity. He may have recalled the injunction of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” Mr. Snowden chose duty. Your administration vindictively responded with a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Espionage Act.

From the commencement of your administration, your secrecy of the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance programs had frustrated a national conversation over their legality, necessity, or morality. That secrecy (combined with congressional nonfeasance) provoked Edward’s disclosures, which sparked a national conversation which you have belatedly and cynically embraced. Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to curtail or terminate the NSA’s programs, and the American people are being educated to the public policy choices at hand. A commanding majority now voice concerns over the dragnet surveillance of Americans that Edward exposed and you concealed. It seems mystifying to us that you are prosecuting Edward for accomplishing what you have said urgently needed to be done!

The right to be left alone from government snooping–the most cherished right among civilized people—is the cornerstone of liberty. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson served as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg. He came to learn of the dynamics of the Third Reich that crushed a free society, and which have lessons for the United States today.

Writing in Brinegar v. United States, Justice Jackson elaborated:
The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
These, I protest, are not mere second-class rights but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by the police.

We thus find your administration’s zeal to punish Mr. Snowden’s discharge of civic duty to protect democratic processes and to safeguard liberty to be unconscionable and indefensible.

We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward.

On June 27, 2013, Mr. Fein wrote a letter to the Attorney General stating that Edward’s father was substantially convinced that he would return to the United States to confront the charges that have been lodged against him if three cornerstones of due process were guaranteed. The letter was not an ultimatum, but an invitation to discuss fair trial imperatives. The Attorney General has sneered at the overture with studied silence.

We thus suspect your administration wishes to avoid a trial because of constitutional doubts about application of the Espionage Act in these circumstances, and obligations to disclose to the public potentially embarrassing classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial. Neither does your refusal to remind the American people and prominent Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate like House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann,and Senator Dianne Feinstein that Edward enjoys a presumption of innocence. He should not be convicted before trial. Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a “traitor.”

Ms. Pelosi has pontificated that Edward “did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.” Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, “This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor.” And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of “treason,” which is defined in Article III of the Constitution as “levying war” against the United States, “or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

You have let those quadruple affronts to due process pass unrebuked, while you have disparaged Edward as a “hacker” to cast aspersion on his motivations and talents. Have you forgotten the Supreme Court’s gospel in Berger v. United States that the interests of the government “in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done?”

We also find reprehensible your administration’s Espionage Act prosecution of Edward for disclosures indistinguishable from those which routinely find their way into the public domain via your high level appointees for partisan political advantage. Classified details of your predator drone protocols, for instance, were shared with the New York Times with impunity to bolster your national security credentials. Justice Jackson observed in Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York: “The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally.”

In light of the circumstances amplified above, we urge you to order the Attorney General to move to dismiss the outstanding criminal complaint against Edward, and to support legislation to remedy the NSA surveillance abuses he revealed. Such presidential directives would mark your finest constitutional and moral hour.

Bruce Fein
Counsel for Lon Snowden
Lon Snowden

Bruce Fein & Associates, Inc.
722 12th Street, N.W., 4th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: 703-963-4968

Monday, July 22, 2013

Top 10 tourist attractions in Vietnam


10 Top Tourist Attractions in Vietnam

Written by  on June 30, 2010 in South East Asia - 6 Comments
Most travelers to Vietnam are attracted by the country’s wonderful natural beauty: From the green rice fields in the north to the fascinating bustle of the Mekong Delta in the south. Vietnam however is also a country with a long history and ancient traditions. It has many historic attractions and old temples. An overview of the most amazing tourist attractions in Vietnam.
10Nha Trang
Nha Trangflickr/NguyenTrung
Nha Trang is Vietnam’s most popular seaside resort town located along the second most beautiful bays in the country. It features beautiful beaches with fine and clean sand and clear ocean water with mild temperatures. The city has about 300,000 inhabitants and is more lively and urban in character than other beach destinations like Mui Ne and Phu Quoc. It’s also the scuba diving center of Vietnam.
9Cu Chi Tunnels

Cu Chi Tunnelsflickr/eroku
The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located about 40 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during the Vietnam War, and were the base of operations for the Tết Offensive in 1968. The tunnels have become a popular tourist attraction, and visitors are invited to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system.
8Mekong River (Mekong Delta)
Mekong Riverflickr/Jody Art
The Mekong Delta is the region in southern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea. It is a very rich and lush area, covered with rice fields, that produces about half of the total of Vietnam’s agricultural output. Subsequently, life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and all the villages are often accessible by river rather than by road.
7Mui Ne
Mui Neflickr/flydime
The formerly little-inhabited beach south of the fishing village of Mui Ne has seen some serious development in the last 15 years. Due to strong sea breezes it is a popular destination in Vietnam for kite- and windsurfing. No trip to Mui Ne is complete without a trip to the famous sand dunes located a short distance north of the town. The vast sandy expanse provide some great panoramic views especially during sunset.
6Sa Pa Terraces
Sa Pa Terracesflickr/Two Roses
Sa Pa is a town in northwest Vietnam not far from the Chinese border. Rice terraces can be found in the Muong Hoa valley between Sa Pa town and the Fansipan Mountain, on a backdrop of thick bamboo woodlands. Local mountain people, the Hmong, Giay, Dao, Tay, and Giay, grow rice and corn on these paddy terraces, along with vegetables.
5Phu Quoc
Phu Quocflickr/xxooox
Located in front of the Cambodia coast, Phu Quoc is the largest island in Vietnam. Phu Quoc is what Phuket would be if it hadn’t been overrun by development. The island features pristine tropical forests, undamaged coral reefs and great beaches. One of its beaches, named Bai Dai (Long Beach), was chosen by the ABC News as one of five beautiful and clean beaches. Phu Quoc is famous for producing the best nuoc mam or fermented fish sauce in the world.
4Hoi An
Hoi Anflickr/jmhullot
This fishing-village-turned-tourist-attraction is situated on the coast of the South China Sea. Hoi An has been an international port from the 16th century although the serious shipping business has long since moved to the city of Da Nang. The heart of the city is still the Old Town, full of winding lanes and Chinese-styled shops. It is sometimes called the “Venice of Vietnam” because of the narrow canals that cut through part of the town.
3Hoan Kiem Lake (Hanoi)
Hoan Kiem Lakeflickr/NTLam
Located in the historical center of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake is one of the major scenic spots in the city and serves as the locals’ favorite leisure spot. Hoan Kiem means “returned sword”, and the name comes from a legend in which King Le Loi was given a magical sword by the gods, which he used to drive out the invading Chinese. Later he returned the sword to the Golden Turtle God in the lake.
2Thien Mu Pagoda (Hue)
Thien Mu Pagodaflickr/DanangMonkey
With seven stories, the Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue is the tallest pagoda in Vietnam. The pagoda overlooks the Perfume River and is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital. The temple was built in 1601 during the rule of the Nguyễn Lords. The initial temple was very simply constructed, but over time it was redeveloped and expanded with more intricate features.
1Ha Long Bay
#1 of Tourist Attractions In Vietnamflickr/veen
Ha Long Bay is situated in north Vietnam round a 120 kilometer long coast line and is literally translated as “Bay of Descending Dragons”. The top tourist attraction in Vietnam, Ha Long Bay features thousands of islands, each topped with thick jungle vegetation, forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Several of the islands are hollow, with enormous caves, others islands include lakes and some support floating villages of fishermen.
More Vietnam tourist attractions and travel information can be found in the Explore Vietnam pag

Friday, July 19, 2013

Robots Evolve Altruism, Just as Biology Predicts

wow...this is kind of cool.  Maybe there's something to compassion...maybe not.


Robots Evolve Altruism, Just as Biology Predicts

Robots in a Swiss laboratory have evolved to help each other, just as predicted by a classic analysis of how self-sacrifice might emerge in the biological world.
“Over hundreds of generations … we show that Hamilton’s rule always accurately predicts the minimum relatedness necessary for altruism to evolve,” wrote researchers led by evolutionary biologist Laurent Keller of Switzerland’s University of Lausanne in Public Library of Science Biology. The findings were published May 3.
Hamilton’s rule is named after biologist W.D. Hamilton who in 1964 attempted to explain how ostensibly selfish organisms could evolve to share their time and resources, even sacrificing themselves for the good of others. His rule codified the dynamics — degrees of genetic relatedness between organisms, costs and benefits of sharing — by which altruism made evolutionary sense. According to Hamilton, relatedness was key: Altruism’s cost to an individual would be outweighed by its benefit to a shared set of genes.
In some ways, the rule and its accompanying theory of kin selection is contested. Some scientists have used it to extrapolate too easily from insects to people, and some researchers think it overstates the importance of relatedness. But a more fundamental issue with Hamilton’s rule is the difficulty of testing it in natural systems, where animals evolve at a far slower pace than any research grant cycle.
‘A fundamental principle of natural selection also applies to synthetic organisms.’
Simulations of evolution in robots, which can “reproduce” in mere minutes or hours, have thus become a potentially useful system for studying evolutionary dynamics. And though simple in comparison to animals, Keller’s group says robot models are not too different from the insects that originally inspired Hamilton.
In the new study, inch-long wheeled robots equipped with infrared sensors were programmed to search for discs representing food, then push those discs into a designated area. At the end of each foraging round, the computerized “genes” of successful individuals were mixed up and copied into a fresh generation of robots, while less-successful robots disappeared from the gene pool.
Each robot was also given a choice between sharing points awarded for finding food, thus giving other robots’ genes a chance of surviving, or hoarding. In different iterations of the experiment, the researchers altered the costs and benefits of sharing; they found that, again and again, the robots evolved to share at the levels predicted by Hamilton’s equations.
“A fundamental principle of natural selection also applies to synthetic organisms,” wrote the researchers. “These experiments demonstrate the wide applicability of kin selection theory.”
Video: Evolution of cooperative and altruistic behavior in earlier research Keller’s group. That study established a basis for their altruism; the new study explores its relationship to biological theory.
See Also:
Citation: “A Quantitative Test of Hamilton’s Rule for the Evolution of Altruism.” By Waibel M, Floreano D, Keller L. PLoS Biology, Vol. 9 No. 5, May 3, 2011.

Human Nature May Not Be So Warlike After All

Interesting take on us, however I'll still stick to my belief that we are bellicose and belligerent animals.


Human Nature May Not Be So Warlike After All

Image: Douglas Fry
Given the long, awful history of violence between groups of people, it’s easy to think that humans are predisposed to war. But a new study of violence in modern hunter-gatherer societies, which may hold clues to prehistoric human life, suggests that warlike behavior is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Sure, humans are violent, the researchers say — but most hunter-gatherer killing results from flared tempers and personal feuds rather than group conflicts.
The findings contradict the notion “that humans have an evolved tendency to form coalitions to kill members of neighboring groups,” wrote anthropologists Douglas Fry and Patrik Soderberg in their July 18 Science paper.
“The vast majority of us assume that war is ancient, that it’s part and parcel of human nature,” said Fry. “These types of perceptions have very strong influences on what goes on in current-day society.”
Fry and Soderberg hope to illuminate an era stretching from roughly 10,000 years ago, when metal tools appear in the archaeological record, to about 2.5 million years ago, when stone tool use became widespread. This period looms in our anthropological self-regard as humanity’s adolescence, an evolutionary crucible that would shape our species.
One view, reinforced by studies of conflict in chimpanzees and scattered archaeological evidence of violent deaths in prehistoric humans, holds that group-on-group violence was common and constant, both reflecting and influencing human nature.
A few other researchers consider that view unjustifiably dark, a sort of scientific version of original sin. They say collective human violence was an aberration, not a basic feature of life. In this camp is Fry, who in 2007′s Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace argued that archaeological evidence of prehistoric warfare was often misinterpreted, and modern hunter-gatherer violence exaggerated.
'The vast majority of us assume that war is ancient, that it's part of human nature.'
In most foraging societies, said Fry, lethal aggression was infrequent, and in the archaeological record violence didn’t take regular group-on-group character until relatively recently, when people settled down in ever-larger, more complex and hierarchical societies.
In the new paper, Fry and Soderberg looked at ethnographic histories of 21 nomadic forager societies, compiling a database of every well-documented incidence of lethal aggression that could be found in reputable accounts spanning the last two centuries.
They counted 148 incidents in all, of which more than half involved a single person killing another. Only 22 percent involved multiple aggressors and multiple victims, and only one-third involved conflicts between groups.
Most killings were motivated by sexual jealousy, revenge for a previous murder, insults or other interpersonal quarrels. Collective, between-group violence was the exception, not the rule. To Fry, the weight of evidence suggests that humanity’s origins were, if not exactly peaceful, then not warlike, either.
“When you look at these foraging groups, you see a great deal of cooperation. There are homicides on occasion, but generally people get along very well,” said Fry. “Humans have a capacity for warfare — nobody’s denying that. But to make it a central part of human nature is grossly out of contact with the data.”
Fry’s take on the history of conflict has prompted some conflict itself. Sam Bowles, a Santa Fe Institute economist and behavioral theorist who posits that human cooperative tendencies were shaped by warfare, said the new work “does not support the broader implications that it claims.”
The new dataset is limited, said Bowles, because it excludes less-nomadic, pastoral societies — and even if warfare wasn’t ubiquitous, modest levels would suffice to shape our social evolution, he said.
Anthropologist Richard Wrangham of Harvard University, who has studied chimpanzee conflicts, wasn’t concerned by the pastoralist omission, but said that accounts from modern hunter-gatherers are not reliable guides to the past.
These societies are now scattered, often living beside other, more powerful agricultural societies, said Wrangham. In the past, living along other foraging societies, with less imbalance of power, they’d have been more warlike.
Fry agreed that modern foragers are imperfect windows into humanity’s origins, but said the data do suggest a trend that fits with a paucity of archaeological evidence of warfare from before 10,000 years ago, when complex, settled societies arose.
Anthropologist George Chaplin of Penn State University, who hasn’t been as directly involved in the debate, agrees that “the earliest human ancestors must have been more peaceable than a chimpanzee model would predict.”
Chaplin, who recently wrote about the emergence of group conflict in eastern North America — which appears to have been fueled by increasing human populations and the advent of bows — said the key to peaceability is in large foraging areas and low population densities.
Given the difficulty of reconstructing early history, the debate over warfare and human nature might not ever be settled. But the simple possibility that humans are not innately warlike has immediate implications, said Fry.
Assumptions like these shape the questions that researchers ask. “There’s so much discussion of killing and raiding,” he said, which inadvertently downplays other aspects of forager life, such as the conflict mediation mechanisms that every early society had.
“Perhaps the main selection pressure was on not killing,” said Fry. And in explaining war, we might not look to human nature so much as human environments, social structures and technologies. Perhaps the tendency to war is not in our biology, but our sociology.
“These types of questions about the nature of humanity, about the nature of society, are really relevant today,” said Fry. “People have said to me, ‘We’ve always had war. We always will have war.’” Perhaps, he says, it isn’t necessarily so.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Quick shout out...

Just wanted to say hello to my friends Miggo and Mond.  Hope they're doing well.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Odd-Looking Orcas May Be a Distinct Species

Cool beans...we're discovering new species....


Odd-Looking Orcas May Be a Distinct Species

Type D orcas have blunt heads, small white eye spots, and narrow, curved dorsal fins. Photographed in 2011 in Drake Strait. (Jean-Pierre Sylvestre)
A strange-looking and mysterious killer whale living in the heaving seas ringing Antarctica might be a distinct species. Known as Type D orcas, the whales are so seldom seen that scientists relied on a 60-year-old museum specimen to unravel their ancestral story.
The tale places the black-and-white toothed whales among the most genetically distinct orcas on the planet. Roughly 400,000 years ago, it concludes, Type D orcas diverged from the rest of the lineage. Their closest relatives are the transient, mammal-eating orcas of the north Pacific. Together, the two groups form a long branch in the evolutionary tree of killer whales and suggest that with more sequencing, more species will come.
“This is a great study,” said biologist Robin Baird, of the Cascadia Research Collective, about the work, recently published in Polar Biology. “None of this would have been possible without that museum collection.”
Type D orcas live in a frigid band of choppy water that rings Antarctica,  known as the sub-Antarctic waters; here, the southern latitudes have earned ominous nicknames like the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties.
“They just live in such bad water most of the time that people haven’t been out looking for them,” said study coauthor Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.  “We really don’t know very much about this animal at all.”
Illustration showing the differences between a “typical” killer whale and the Type D orca. (Uko Gorter.)
The first record of Type D orcas dates back to 1955, when 17 of the odd-looking whales stranded on Paraparaumu Beach on New Zealand. Blunt, bulbous heads, tiny white eye spots, and delicate, curved dorsal fins made the orcas look unlike any others that had been observed. Scientists collected a skeleton and brought it to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, where it’s been for almost 60 years.
For half a century, scientists didn’t know whether the stranded orcas were an example of strange mutations within a single family group, or a distinct type of killer whale. Then, in 2004, the odd-looking whales were seen again at sea. Six sets of photographs from different southern hemisphere locations depicted strange-looking whales that looked like the ones that had stranded in New Zealand.
“We realized that this animal is alive, and that’s it’s distinct, and that it has a fairly wide distribution,” Pitman said.
After studying the evidence, Pitman and his colleagues began referring to the whales as Type D, or sub-Antarctic, orcas. Since 2010, more sightings at sea – mostly by tour boats heading toward Antarctica – have notched the total sightings to somewhere near a dozen. Scientists don’t know how big the population is or what it eats, but they suspect that Type Ds are fish-eating orcas, owing to an observation of them picking Chilean sea bass (“or Patagonian toothfish, whatever you want to call it,” Pitman says) off fishermen’s longlines.
But finding out how the sub-Antarctic whales were related to other orcas presented a different challenge. There are no tissue samples from living animals – the whales have been too hard to find. Even Pitman, who’s studied Antarctic orcas for years, has never seen one.
So, scientists went back to the New Zealand museum. There, they extracted DNA from bone and soft tissue clinging to the skeleton from the 1955 stranding. They ground up the samples, releasing decades-old genetic material. From that pool emerged the whale’s mitochondrial DNA, small rings of no more than 17,000 base-pairs that live within the energy-producing organelles in cells. Unlike nuclear DNA, which is inherited from both parents, mitochondrial DNA is passed down through the maternal lineage; there is little to no recombination, and the sequence only changes when mutations occur.
Scientists can use this kind of genetic sequence to construct evolutionary relationships between organisms. In this case, geneticist Phillip Morin at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center compared the mitochondrial sequence of the museum whale to a reference sequence from Southern Ocean killer whales.
The Type D sequence wasn’t like the others.  “It was extremely different,” Morin said. “I was actually surprised.”
When Morin looked to see which killer whales the Type Ds were most closely related to, he found that they shared a most recent ancestor with the mammal-hunting North Pacific transients. Based on the number of mutations that had built up in their mitochondrial DNA, Morin estimates that the two whales diverged from their last common ancestor around 400,000 years ago.
“That’s recent in evolutionary terms,” Morin said. “But it’s certainly long enough for divergence to occur, just through random mutation in the genome, and for selection to actually result in adapted differences.”
Scientists aren’t sure whether the orcas might be a distinct species, or a subspecies. Now, the team is hoping to collect samples from living animals and construct a more complete genomic picture using sequences from the DNA inside the nucleus of their cells. “Clearly they’re on a divergent path,” Pitman said. “It’s just a matter of how far down that path they’ve gone.”
Type D orcas, photographed in 2011 in Drake Strait. (Jean-Pierre Sylvestre)
Rus Hoelzel, a molecular ecologist at Durham University, in the United Kingdom, suggests that the 400,000-year branch point could be much more recent if the mitochondrial mutation rate the authors used to rewind the molecular clock is off. He’d also like to see more genetic sequences – as would the authors. “As the authors rightly point out, any discussion of new species would need to take into account variation among type D genotypes, and data from nuclear DNA,” Hoelzel said.
What is clear is that Type Ds probably aren’t the only orca species swimming around – scientists estimate there could be as many as six or seven different kinds of killer whales in the world’s oceans with distinct morphology and behavior.
Like humans, killer whales engage in complex social interactions. They share food preferences, learn hunting strategies from their parents, and pass on cultural variations in their vocalizations. Possessing some of the most creative hunting strategies of any whale, orcas quickly specialize in capturing different types of prey: Some prefer seals and other mammals, while others go for fish.
Baird speculates that, rather than geographic distributions or barriers, these behavioral distinctions are helping drive speciation in orcas. “It’s because of these foraging specializations, the social organization and social structure of the animals — the importance of learning, the importance of teaching, the importance of cooperative hunting,” Baird said.
As for Pitman, he’d like to organize an expedition and sail around the world at sub-Antarctic latitudes, looking for Type Ds. That sounds insane. But if he gets it together, we’d love to tag along.