How To Protect The Ocean (Whales)

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S M T W T F S
     
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Syndication

Andrew Lewin discusses the recent discovery of photographs capturing humpback whales engaging in copulation. The episode features Stephanie Stack from the Pacific Whale Foundation and Griffith University to delve into the surprising details of this behavior. Discover the untold story behind humpback whale reproduction and learn how this new insight can help in ocean conservation efforts.

Connect with Stephanie:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stephaniehstack/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@whalescientist

The groundbreaking discovery of two male humpback whales engaging in copulation challenges previous assumptions about humpback whale behavior and raises new questions for researchers. Captured by professional photographers Lyle and Brandy, this observation sheds light on the complexity of humpback whale social interactions. The encounter, which occurred in Hawaii, revealed unexpected behavior that had not been previously documented in humpback whales.

Traditionally, humpback whales were believed to be solitary animals, with the exception of the bond between a mother and calf in the first year of life. However, this observation of two male humpback whales engaging in copulation suggests a more intricate social dynamic among these marine mammals. The discovery challenges the preconceived notion of humpback whale behavior and opens up new avenues for research into their social interactions.

The photographers' familiarity with humpback whales and their ability to capture identification photos of the whales played a crucial role in this discovery. By providing detailed images of the whales, researchers were able to track and identify the individuals involved in the copulation event. This data, combined with the knowledge of the whales' history and previous sightings, allowed researchers to interpret the interaction and gain valuable insights into humpback whale behavior.

The observation also raises questions about the nature of competitive groups among male humpback whales on breeding grounds. Previous interpretations of these groups as males competing for access to females may need to be reevaluated in light of this new discovery. The possibility of male-male sexual behavior as a form of bonding or socializing adds a layer of complexity to our understanding of humpback whale interactions.

Overall, the discovery of two male humpback whales engaging in copulation highlights the importance of continued research and observation of marine mammals. It underscores the need to challenge existing assumptions and explore the full range of behaviors exhibited by these fascinating creatures. This event serves as a reminder of the complexity and diversity of marine life and the ongoing quest to unravel the mysteries of the ocean.

The episode emphasizes the vital role that citizen science and community scientists play in advancing our understanding of marine mammals, such as humpback whales. Stephanie Stack, a humpback whale researcher, highlights the significance of individuals like Lyle and Brandy, who were familiar with humpback whales and the identification techniques used in research.

  1. Knowledge and Expertise: Lyle and Brandy's experience in the tourism industry and photography of humpback whales provided them with a deep understanding of the animals. Their familiarity with the underside anatomy of humpback whales allowed them to accurately sex the whales and capture identification photos, essential for tracking individuals over time.

  2. Data Collection: The ability of citizen scientists to capture high-quality photographs of the whales in the act of copulation provided researchers with a rare and valuable dataset. These observations, combined with identification photos, contribute to long-term catalogs used to track trends and changes in humpback whale populations.

  3. Advancing Research: Working with community scientists who are on the water and able to capture unique encounters like the one involving two male humpback whales mating enhances the knowledge base of researchers. These observations open up new questions and avenues for further research, challenging preconceived notions about humpback whale behavior.

  4. Collaborative Efforts: The collaboration between researchers and citizen scientists exemplifies the power of community engagement in marine mammal research. By leveraging the expertise and passion of individuals like Lyle and Brandy, researchers can gather data that would be challenging to obtain through traditional research methods alone.

  5. Contribution to Conservation: The data collected by citizen scientists not only contributes to scientific knowledge but also raises awareness about the importance of marine mammal conservation. By involving the public in research efforts, a sense of stewardship and connection to these animals is fostered, leading to increased support for conservation initiatives.

In conclusion, the episode underscores the importance of continued research and study of humpback whales to better understand their behaviors, interactions, and social dynamics. The discovery of two male humpback whales engaging in copulation sheds light on previously unknown aspects of humpback whale behavior, challenging preconceived notions and opening up new questions for researchers to explore.

The episode also highlights the potential impacts of human activities on humpback whales, emphasizing the need to understand how these activities influence whale behavior and health. By delving into the intricacies of humpback whale behavior, researchers can uncover valuable insights that inform conservation initiatives and safeguard the future of these iconic marine species.

Direct download: HTPTO_E1577_HumpbackWhalesCopulate.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Andrew Lewin discusses the urgent need to slow down and enforce more slowdowns of boats along the Atlantic coast after a Northern Atlantic Right whale calf was struck by a ship. The devastating news of a North Atlantic right whale calf being struck by a ship and expected to die highlights the critical situation faced by these endangered whales. With only 356 individuals remaining, action must be taken to protect them.

Tune in to learn more about the importance of speaking up for the ocean and taking steps to ensure its preservation.

Link to article: https://newjerseymonitor.com/2023/10/19/speeding-ships-threaten-extinction-of-north-atlantic-right-whales-study-warns/

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In the episode, it was mentioned that Puget Sound in Washington had undergone a temporary closure or slowdown to safeguard the Southern Resident Orca populations. The episode also introduced a woman affiliated with a marine transportation organization who was part of an effort to protect these orcas by examining the impact of speed. The organization proposed a voluntary slowdown project in Puget Sound, specifically in areas frequented by the orcas, for a duration of eight weeks. The project received widespread support and was successfully implemented. The results of this project are expected to be available later in the summer.

The episode further discusses the urgent need for more boat slowdowns along the Atlantic coast to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. With only 356 individuals remaining, immediate action is crucial to prevent further harm to this species. The episode highlights a recent incident where a North Atlantic right whale calf was struck by a ship, emphasizing the urgency of the situation and the need for protective measures.

One of the main reasons why North Atlantic right whales are particularly vulnerable to ship strikes is their slower swimming speed. Additionally, their tendency to stay just below the water's surface makes it challenging for boats to detect them. The episode explains that these whales lack a dorsal fin, further complicating their visibility. Therefore, enforcing boat slowdowns is essential to reduce the risk of collisions with these endangered animals.

The episode also emphasizes the importance of slow zones, designated areas where boats are required to reduce their speed, in protecting North Atlantic right whales. However, it notes that these slow zones need to be regularly updated to align with the whales' current migration and feeding patterns. Climate change has caused shifts in the whales' routes, potentially due to changes in ocean currents and temperature. Consequently, adjusting the slow zones accordingly is crucial to ensure effective protection for the whales.

Furthermore, the episode highlights a study conducted by Oceana, an ocean conservation advocacy group, which revealed a significant lack of compliance with mandatory slowdowns in areas correlated to whale migration and feeding patterns. The study found that 84% of boats over 65 feet long and 82% of boats in areas with temporary slowdowns were exceeding the speed limits. This lack of adherence underscores the need for improved communication and engagement with boaters to raise awareness about the importance of slowdowns and the reasons behind them.

In conclusion, the episode underscores the urgent need for more boat slowdowns along the Atlantic coast to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. The small population size of these whales and their susceptibility to ship strikes necessitate immediate action. Updating and enforcing slow zones, as well as improving communication with boaters, are essential steps in safeguarding the survival of this critically endangered species.

The survival of whales is being impacted by closures of specific areas for crabbing, shrimping, and lobstering. These closures are a response to the changing migration patterns of whales caused by ocean warming and climate changes. Monitoring the survivability of whales passing through these areas is crucial, and the closures aim to protect their migration patterns. However, enforcing these closures and implementing regulations is a challenging task that requires time to take effect. Conservationists remain hopeful that these measures will effectively protect the whales, but their true effectiveness is yet to be determined.

 

Direct download: HTPTO_E1558_BoatSpeedsSlowDownNothernRightWhale.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Northern Right Whale Threats
The North Atlantic right whale is an endangered species, and its presence near lobster fishing areas can pose a threat to the whale population. The main concerns are ship strikes and entanglement with fishing lines, which have both been responsible for injuries and fatalities among these majestic creatures. As the northern right whales venture higher and further north in Canada, the task of managing their interactions with human activities becomes increasingly challenging. Recognizing the importance of prioritizing the protection of these endangered species, cautious methods are being employed to mitigate any potential harm caused by the fishing industry. During the podcast, I discussed how sightings of Northern right whales in the vicinity of Prince Edward Island prompted the temporary closure of a lobster fishing area. With high stakes, it is crucial to strike a balance between preserving these whales' well-being, preserving the fishermen's livelihood, and maintaining the environment's delicate balance. Fishermen in the region have been doing their part to achieve this balance by working with the Department of Fisheries Oceans to adopt eco-friendly and sustainable practices.

Economic Consequences
The temporary closure of the lobster fishing area represents a setback for local fishermen who rely on their catch to make a living. The peak lobster season is ongoing, and the closure may have a significant financial impact on the affected fishers. Despite the potential economic consequences, the preservation of an endangered species has to be prioritized. The challenge lies in finding alternative solutions that can successfully mitigate whale interactions without hampering the fishermen's livelihood. The possible economic repercussions of the temporary closure were acknowledged. The podcast highlighted the importance of finding new management methods and solutions to address the issue. By working together, all parties involved can explore and implement innovative approaches that ensure sustainable fishing practices without compromising marine ecosystems and the vulnerable northern right whales.

Closure Details
The closure of the portion of the lobster fishing area 24 applies to waters 18 meters deep, with shallower waters remaining open for fishing activities. The Department of Fisheries Oceans has granted a 96-hour window for the removal of fishing gear, and the closure will persist for 15 days. However, if no subsequent sightings of right whales occur in the area, the closure may be lifted sooner, allowing fishermen to resume their activities.

Link to article: https://bit.ly/3Mz2Qt8

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Direct download: HTPTO_E1460_RightWhaleSightingsHaltsLobsterFishery.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Northern right whales have been the subject of many conservation conversations over the past couple of months due to the decisions made around lobster and crab pot support for sustainability to protect the endangered species. Northern Right whales are heavily monitored, especially in the winter during their calving season. Two calves were spotted recently off the coast of Georgia providing some hope for the endangered whales in hopes that their numbers rebound, but the population is expected to produce 23 calves per year which have not been achieved in a long time. One theory is that the whales have had to shift their feeding areas north to the Gulf of St. Lawrence to find their preferred food, copepods due to climate change. Will this season be better than those in the past?
 
Link to articles:
1) 2 Northern Right Whales Spotted Off the Coast of Georgia https://bit.ly/3V6QgUm
2) 13 new Northern Right Whale calves in 2021 https://bit.ly/3BKFVGu
3) Northern Right Whale Food Source https://bit.ly/3jfIhH2
 
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Direct download: SUFB_S1396_NorthernRightWhaleCalvesSpotted.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

The one thing that I love about doing this podcast is the fact that I can talk to people who have done amazing things in Marine Conservation. Sometimes, people are supported by large organizations/companies that help them get on their way to launching these amazing conservation projects. Other times, the people start the projects on their own and create something really special. 

In today's episode, I speak with Ted Cheeseman who co-founded the site HappyWhale.com, a website that tracks humpback whales that have been identified by photos taken from citizen scientists from all over the Pacific Ocean. There are over 60,000 photos in the database spanning decades. 

Ted discusses:
1) Why he started the site with his co-creator;
2) How he builds relationships with the photographers and the scientists to study the tracks;
3) How Ted started his Ph.D. on tracking humpback whales, and, 4) How he would like to see Happy Whale be used in the future.

Connect with Ted:
Website: https://happywhale.com/home
Help Fund Happy Whale: https://experiment.com/social-whales

Connect with Speak Up For Blue:
Website: https://www.speakupforblue.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speakupforblue/
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Direct download: SUFB_S1220_HappyWhale.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Swim-with-whale tour operators are popping up in various places around the world. The idea of getting in the water and swimming with humpback whales nearby can be a dream come true for many people; however, the tour operators are running without any regulations to ensure that the tours are not altering the behavior of the humpback whales. 

The humpback whales that hang out in Hervey Bay, Australia every year do so to rest during their long migration from Australia to Antarctica. The trip requires a ton of energy to move such large bodies that distance in the ocean. Any excess energy used can be detrimental to the migration of the whales. 

Stephanie Stack, Chief Scientist at the Pacific Whale Foundation, and her team studied the humpback whale behavior before, during, and after swim-with-whale tours and whale watching tours occurred in Hervey Bay.  

Stephanie joins me on today's podcast to discuss the results of the study and what next steps need to be taken. 

Connect with Stephanie:
Pacific Whale Foundation: https://www.pacificwhale.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/StephanieHStack
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shstack/
Happy Whale: https://happywhale.com/home

Connect with Speak Up For Blue:
Website: https://www.speakupforblue.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speakupforblue/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/speakupforblue
 

Direct download: SUFB_S214_HowSwimWithWhaleToursAffectHumpbackWhales.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

The Faroe Islands government has announced that they will review their regulations of the dolphin cull after some whalers and critics thought that the last cull of 1400 white-sided dolphins was too numerous to use all of the meat.  

The current regulations that I mentioned during the last episode raised a number of questions about how quantitative are regulations? How many animals can they take at once? What is the ratio of hunters to animals to ensure a quick hunt of each individual? How much meat is given to each family?

Hopefully, questions such as the ones above will be answered during this review.   

Last episode: https://www.speakupforblue.com/show/speak-up-for-the-ocean-blue/sufb-1211-questions-around-the-legality-of-killing-1400-white-sided-dolphins-in-the-faroe-islands-circulate/

Link to article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/faroe-islands-dolphin-follow-1.6179472

Connect with Speak Up For Blue:
Website: https://www.speakupforblue.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speakupforblue/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/speakupforblue

Direct download: SUFB_S1212_UpdateOnTheFaroeIslandsDolphinCullOf1400DolphinsReviewed.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

You would think that we would know more information about whales because they are so big; however, that is not the case. There are many information gaps in what we know about whales, especially whales that leave in extreme climates like the Arctic. 

Beluga and narwhal whales are especially tricky because they live so far up north and often under the ice. Knowing where they go and why is really important as the Arctic is rapidly changing. 

We have been able to track the smaller mammals using aerial surveys and drones however, those technologies are expensive and, in the case of the aerial survey, could be dangerous. 

Bertrand Charry, the co-founder of Whale Seeker, is using satellite imagery to help track these elusive whales and he is my guest on today's podcast to discuss why it's important to track marine mammals from space. He also talks about his career and why he chose to seek the entrepreneurial route to conduct marine science in Canada. 

Connect with Bertrand and Whale Seeker:
Whale Seeker Website: https://www.whaleseeker.com/
Whale Seeker's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whale_seeker/

Connect with Bertrand:
Bertrand's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bertrand-charry-8939b860/

 Check out all of our episodes on www.speakupforblue.com

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Direct download: SUFB_S1194_MappingBelugasAndNarwhalsFromSpace.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

The documentation of the distribution of any ocean species is critical to knowing the health of the species global and regional populations. That is why the sighting of 3 beaked whales in the South China Sea by beaked whale experts was so important. It opened the possibility that the whales inhabit the Western Pacific Ocean. 

The individuals were either ginkgo-toothed beaked whales or Deraniyagala's beaked whales as the two are very similar. Unfortunately, the sighting could not be confirmed as no DNA sample was taken. 

There was an interesting observation however, there were two indentations observed on the beaks of the whales that is similar to other beaked whales that have had interaction with fishing gear. This observation fuels the thirst for more information about the animals and their distribution.

Link To Article: https://news.mongabay.com/2021/01/rare-beaked-whale-sighting-could-be-a-world-first-for-the-species/

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Direct download: SUFB_S1109_RareBeakedWhalesSpottedForTheFirstTimeInSouthChinaSea.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Marine Scientists, Volunteers, and the Navy were responsible for saving 120 pilot whales that were found stranded earlier in the week (on Monday). The stranding marked the largest mass stranding ever recorded in Sri Lankan history. The response was swift and successful as the Navy deployed small vessels that towed the whales out from the surf into deeper water where they could recover and swim out safely without getting stuck. 

Pilot whales are notorious for mass strandings. A few months ago, there were 470 pilot whales stranded in Tasmania, Australia, where only 120 whales could be rescued. I talked about that story in episode 1061. 

Dr. Asha de Vos was part of the rescue efforts where she provided first-hand accounts of what was happening on the ground. She addressed concerns from people on Twitter who thought rescuers were being too rough with the whales; however, Asha made people aware of how hard it is to move a 3000kg whale in the surf to get it to deeper water where you don't have any footing. Asha's account provides us with a better perspective on the challenges faced by rescuers while trying to save whales. 

We are very fortunate to have the Sri Lankan Navy, Marine Scientists like Asha, and volunteers whose tireless efforts were successful in rescuing 120 pilot whales. 

Would you volunteer to rescue stranded whales?

Dr. Asha de Vos' SUFB Episodes:
1) Episode 200
2) Episode 359
3) Episode 394
4) Episode 863

Link To Article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/03/sri-lanka-rescues-120-whales-after-biggest-mass-stranding

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Direct download: SUFB_S1078_LargestMassStrandingInSriLankaHasAHappyEnding.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Pilot whales are known to strand every once and a while, but never in the numbers that occurred over the past week. 470 Pilot Whales were stranded (the most record). 

In this episode, I talk about why pilot whales can strand and how marine mammal stranding organizations play a critical role in saving lives that would otherwise be lost. 

Links to Articles:

1) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/27/tasmania-rescuers-guide-another-pilot-whale-to-freedom-bringing-survivor-tally-to-110

2) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/25/tragedy-in-tasmania-what-are-pilot-whales-and-why-do-they-strand-themselves

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Madame Curiosity
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Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2V38QQ1

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Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2k1YyRL

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Spotify: https://spoti.fi/37rinWz

Ocean Science Radio
Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3chJMfA
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3bnkP18

The Guide To Mindful Conservation: Dancing In Pink Hiking Boots:
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/31P4UY6
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3f7hDJw

Direct download: SUFB_S1061_470PilotWhalesStrandedInTasmania.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

Last year, we observed 215 dead Gray Whales wash ashore. Scientists believe that more whales died and were stuck in some gyres or sank to the bottom of the sea. There were a ton of questions being asked as to why the whales were washing up dead. 

Now researchers have some answers and the results are more worrisome than we initially thought.

Link To Article: https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/necropsies-unveil-more-about-mass-gray-whale-deaths/

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Madame Curiosity
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2xUlSax
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2V38QQ1

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Dugongs & Seadragons:
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Environmental Studies & Sciences
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Marine Mammal Science:
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Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2k1YyRL

Projects For Wildlife Podcast:
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2Oc17gy
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/37rinWz

Ocean Science Radio
Apple Podcast: https://apple.co/3chJMfA
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3bnkP18

The Guide To Mindful Conservation: Dancing In Pink Hiking Boots:
Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/31P4UY6
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3f7hDJw

 

 

Direct download: SUFB_S1029_CausesOfGrayWhaleDieOffNowKnown.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

A dedicated listener, Alyssa Stoller, sent me an article on beaked whales beaching themselves off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland. Alyssa wanted to make sure that the story would get spread across the Speak Up For Blue airwaves as it was an important story and it needed to be discussed. I gladly obliged.

I asked Dr. Chris Parsons if he would be able to come on the podcast to help explain the details of the story as he is familiar with the area. Chris used to work in the area on Marine Mammals. 

As usual, Chris and I got talking and we talked...a lot. So I decided to separate the show into two parts. In Part 1, Chris and I discuss the overall reasons as to why marine mammals beach themselves. In part 2 (next episode), we discuss the specifics of the article that Alyssa sent us.

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Enjoy the Podcast!!!

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Direct download: SUFB_S605_WhyAreBeakedWhalesBeachingThemselvesInTheUK.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

A quick episode today. This episode is based on the various reactions of a family who encountered two whales during their family adventure in Puget Sound. Let's just say some family members were enjoying the once in a lifetime experience and others were scared out of their wits. 

The whales were under the boat and lifted the boat slightly, so I can understand why some of the family members were afraid. However, it was interesting to hear calmer heads prevail as they calmed down their fellow family members to show that the whales meant no harm and that they will never experience it again...so take it all in.

I have some family members that get frightened at specific wildlife around my neighbourhood. I tell one of those stories in this episode. 

Let me know your irrational fears for animals in the Facebook Group.

Enjoy the Podcast!!!

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Direct download: SUFB_S588_IfAWhaleWentUnderYourBoatWouldYouCall911.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 4:00pm EDT

Whales are the focus of today's podcast as they are in the news on the East and West Coast of the United States. Some of the news is good and some of the news is bad. Even the good news is not that great. Here is the breakdown of the episode:

1) 41 Humpback whales washed ashore dead over the past year (average is 14). Scientists are looking into it;
2) Orcas hunt Grey Whale calf like they are supposed to, but headline makes it seem like they are killing for fun;
3) How to be better scientists, activists, advocates or conservationists.

Enjoy the podcast!

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Direct download: SUFB_S310_HumpbackWhaleStrandingsOrcaHuntingExagerrationCarefulActivism.mp3
Category:Whales -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

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