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
SEP 18, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 18, 2018
Study Investigates Why People Like Bees and Dislike Wasps
Bees and wasps share a lot in common; the clear majority of both sport the familiar black and yellow color scheme, retain unpleasant stingers for self-defe...
OCT 14, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 14, 2018
Here's How Hurricanes Impact Marine Wildlife
We’re not the only ones impacted by the hazards of powerful hurricanes; so too are the vast hierarchies of marine wildlife that reside in the ocean....
NOV 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2018
Newly-Discovered Tea Plant Naturally Exhibits Little or No Caffeine
Tea is perhaps one of nature’s purest flavored drinks, and it can be brewed from not much more than some hot water and lightly-processed tea plant le...
NOV 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2018
Researchers Link Sunfish Brain Size to Specific Habitats
To most people, a specific fish species would be the same whether it was found at the shoreline or in the middle of the ocean. But according to research pu...
NOV 19, 2018
Videos
NOV 19, 2018
The Amazon's worst enemy
Brazil has a new leader, and he could be the Amazon’s biggest enemy yet. President Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to sell off large portions of the rainf...
NOV 22, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 22, 2018
Why Are Dandelion Seeds So Good at "Flying"?
The seeds of dandelions, pesky and irritating as they are, bear an extraordinary aerodynamic property that allows them to be carried far by the wind. In co...
Loading Comments...