60 Ton Waterbird?

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By John Wiley

We happened to see these humpback whales feeding just offshore on a recent flight, and snapped this just as one of them surfaced for a deep breath. I got curious about their unusually long pectoral fins, and wondered whether it enables them to "fly" in water. According to the wiki, maybe??

Back on the ground we strolled past a pond and spotted this more traditional waterbird at a distance, thinking it to be a goose. Looking at my long zoom pic now, that doesn't seem to be the case. I realized today that Edhat is a great repository of avian info. Anyone know what it is?

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tagdes Sep 09, 2021 05:31 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

And the scientific genus name for D-C Cormorants is little wing and was originally from flightless cormorant.

Snorky Sep 09, 2021 08:03 AM
60 Ton Waterbird?

Their taxonomic name translates to "big winged New Englander" I guess "water birds" is somewhat appropriate.

John Wiley Sep 08, 2021 06:31 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

Lots of tubercle studies inspired by the ones on humpback fins it seems. Not just for surfboard fins (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0232035), but wind turbine blades, and aircraft wings & propellers (https://community.openppg.com/t/tubercles-for-more-efficient-propellers-and-wings/2896).

John Wiley Sep 09, 2021 03:54 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

Amazon patented the humpback tubercle idea for propellers apparently, with the idea of reducing noise. Presumably for their UAV delivery drones and maybe VTOL taxis. Even though there are quite a few numerical design and wind tunnel studies that seem to show dramatic improvements, there don't seem to be any tubercle designs in production or testing - at least published so far. Anyone seen something?

imarshell Sep 08, 2021 05:29 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

The cormorant powers it's underwater "flight" by it's feet. Water is about 830 times more dense than air. Wings that can carry a bird in air have little use in that dense medium. The cormorant looks more like a very fast snake slipping around the sea grass and kelp hunting fish. If it opened it's wings underwater it would lose the race for it's meal.

John Wiley Sep 08, 2021 06:26 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

I've seen nature videos of other diving birds that do use their wings. Amazing that cormorants could move so fast underwater with just their feet, but maybe they have a low-drag shape underwater?

John Wiley Sep 08, 2021 04:13 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

Watching them fly in water from film & video plus my brief glimpses, it seems to me humpback whale "wing" muscles are very weak. At least for "flapping" propulsion. But they do seem able to change the tilt angle as a way to roll their bodies and combine that with their powerful tail muscles for maneuvering. If so, it could be likened to elevator and aileron control in aircraft and of course how birds maneuver (including underwater for bird species like the cormorant, though they get propulsion from wings rather than tail). Have you seen any details on whether/how humpbacks use their pectoral fins for maneuvering? I was just now googling it and came across a Fish study of these "wings" here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040512044455.htm

John Wiley Sep 08, 2021 02:27 PM
60 Ton Waterbird?

Part of a juvenile gang do you think, based on the coloration? We didn't see any others that looked like this, but maybe they were all diving for dinner. Thanks for the ID, and now I'm wondering if this is the same species that takes over coastal eucalyptus trees like the ones at Butterfly beach, Summerland, and other familiar spots like the former oil platforms near Sandpiper/Bacara. Those seem smaller and thinner, but maybe this one's juvenile plumage is fluffier and makes it look bigger?

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