What Happens When Researchers Can’t Save Stranded Whales?

Written by on February 11, 2014 in Other News

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Beached pilot whales in New Zealand.

Beached pilot whales in New Zealand. Photo credit: angieandsteve via photopin cc.

A New, More Humane Way to Euthanize Stranded Whales
Sometimes beached whales can’t be saved. What then? If a whale strands alive and can’t get back out to sea, it faces a slow, painful death, which is why researchers will often euthanize the animal. The methods vary, but the goal is always to make it as quick and painless as possible. Now, a new study identifies what could be the most humane method, which involves a mixture of sedatives, pain relievers, and a euthanasia drug. This article gets a little graphic, but it’s worth the read because you’ll get a better understanding of what stranding response teams and researchers have to do and how they make these tough decisions.

How do polar bears stay warm? Research finds an answer in their genes
Arctic winters are cold even for polar bears, so how do they stay warm? New research suggests that the answer lies in genetic adaptations related to the production of nitric oxide, a compound that cells use to convert food into energy or heat. The new study reveals that the genes controlling nitric oxide production in polar bears are different from comparable genes in brown and black bears (that hibernate in the winter). This study is part of a larger research program to understand how polar bears have adapted to the harsh Arctic environment.

Polar bears.

Polar bears. Photo credit: NOAA.

Threatened eels disappear in the deep on their way to the Sargasso Sea
The European eel (Anguilla anguilla), a threatened species, is hatched in salt water in the Sargasso Sea. It spends much of its life in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams in Europe, and then makes the 6,000 kilometer journey across the Atlantic back to the Sargasso Sea to spawn. The eels face threats from predators the whole way back. New research reveals that even though they swim in deep water where the researchers assumed they would be safe, the eels are not free from predation. They are still hunted and eaten by whales. Researchers are working to map the eel’s “mysterious life cycle” in order to help bring their numbers back up.

Copyright © 2014 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She is also a PADI diver and dog lover. .

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