Whale Breath Reveals Much About Health and Stress

Written by on October 1, 2013 in Other News, Whales & Dolphins

Daily Summary

A Wealth of Data in Whale Breath
Researchers are studying the breath of marine mammals in captivity in order to improve their health and to develop an effective, unobtrusive technique for studying them. Blood is the “gold standard” in for health research, but it is extremely difficult to obtain from larger animals. By studying the breath produced from the whales’ blowhole, researchers can learn almost as much without any invasive procedures. Trainers and veterinarians working with captive whales routinely smell their breath. By now they know that normal, healthy breath has a fishy smell; rotten-egg breath indicates digestive problems and sweet-smelling breath indicates bacterial pneumonia. They can also identify many hormones that can indicate the animals’ sex, maturity,reproductive status and stress levels.

Food security ‘under threat’ as oceans suffer under climate change
The International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) recently released a report on the science of climate change which reveals that it is as much a problem for the oceans as it is for land. The report found that sea levels have risen an average of 19cm since 1901 and are expected to continue to rise 26cm more by the end of the century. The report also highlights the issue of ocean acidification and warming oceans, all of which have implications for global food security as populations shift and habitats are destroyed.

Georgia Aquarium heads to court to get wild-caught beluga whales sought by SeaWorld

Beluga whale.

Beluga whale. Photo credit: mirsasha via photopin cc.

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries Service officially denied the Georgia Aquarium’s request to import 18 wild-caught Beluga whales into the US. Yesterday, the Georgia¬†Aquarium headed to court in an attempt to overturn NOAA’s ruling. This was the first time in more than 20 years that a US facility has attempted to import marine mammals captured from the wild specifically to be put on display. NOAA maintains that taking those belugas would threaten the wild population, but the aquarium states that the permit met all the required criteria under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Find out what WDC has to say about this: WDC Response to Georgia Aquarium Appeal.

Copyright © 2013 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 and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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