JUL 17, 2018 04:52 PM PDT

A Whale's Blowhole Spray Can Say a Lot About it

Whales of all varieties are some of the most frequently-studied marine mammals in the ocean today; and now, animal scientists with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium say there could be an easier way to monitor their health.

Can a whale's blowhole spray provide important information about the animals' health?

Image Credit: Public Domain

The researchers spent eight days capturing 100 blowhole spray samples from 46 right whales in 2015, and tests performed on these samples validated that it’s feasible to discern valuable hormonal data from them.

The findings appear this week in the journal Scientific Reports.

The standard method today for assessing whale health and their response to human activities is to collect fecal samples, but this new method is allegedly more accessible and could provide enhanced ‘real-time’ statistics.

The hormone data in a whale’s blowhole spray can say a lot about the animal; it can indicate any potential injuries, reveal secrets about its reproductive health, and underscore stress levels, just to name a few.

"It will be an early warning monitoring system. We're looking at quantifying the stress response to get ahead of what they're experiencing and to see if we need to make management changes before there are dire consequences," explained study lead author Liz Burgess.

Related: Plastic bags and other types of pollution are killing the ocean's whales

With the rather small number of right whales in existence today, it's critical that we understand as much about them as we can if we're to save them from extinction. The team suggests that this new approach to monitoring their health could help with conservation and strengthen efforts to improve reproduction.

As technological advancements surface, the method could be improved. For example, aerial drones could one day chase right whales in a less-disturbing manner than scientists trying to get close enough to a whale with a boat and a pole.

It should be interesting to see what conservationists make of it. After all, everyone likes an easier way to get the job done.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 06, 2018
Rising Oceanic CO2 Levels Inhibit Olfaction in Fish
Fish depend on olfaction for a plethora of things, including food discovery, predator evasion, navigation, and recognition. But what happens when fish sudd...
AUG 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 06, 2018
African Killifish Crowned the World's 'Fastest-Maturing' Vertebrate
Researchers have long understood the African killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri) to reach maturity at break-neck speeds. But a new study published in the jo...
AUG 13, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 13, 2018
Orca Mother Stops Mourning Dead Calf After 17 Days
Orcas are notorious for mourning their deceased loved ones by lugging the lifeless bodies around with them for extended periods of time, but a recent incid...
AUG 15, 2018
Neuroscience
AUG 15, 2018
Bees Know What Zero Means
There is much concern over the dwindling population of honey bees. They are needed for pollination and for ecosystems to stay in balance, but soon research...
OCT 03, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 03, 2018
Groundcherries May be Coming Soon to a Market Near You
You may not have heard of the groundcherry, but scientists are eager to get people to try the newly-modified exotic fruit....
OCT 03, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 03, 2018
Urban Blue Tits Lay Larger Eggs Than Their Forest-Dwelling Counterparts
Curious researchers from the University of Lodz wanted to know if there were any substantial differences between eggs laid by city-dwelling blue tits and t...
Loading Comments...