Whale Poop Shows Signs of Distress to Noise Underwater
Have you ever worked at your office or been doing your homework and you can’t concentrate because there is some sort of loud annoying noise (construction?) going on in the background? You get annoyed don’t you…even stressed!
Well, whales react the same way to noise under water. Scientists have studied hormones in whale poop…yes, whale poop to discover an increase in hormones that cause stress during times when ship activity was highest.
This is a great finding as there hasn’t really been any evidence to prove that whales are physically affected by under water noise. Traditionally, experiments for this issue have taken place in captivity with smaller marine mammals (belugas) as it is difficult to measure behaviour changes in the field. So having evidence on a physical resopnse is a great break through in science.
The study measured hormone levels in right whale (an endangered species) poop during times of low boat traffic and times of high boat traffic. An interesting point is that the low boat traffic time was just after 9/11 when many boats were not allowed to travel into any majo US port. Low boat traffic for the Atlantic Coast is a unique event within itself.
Right whales strikes from boats are quite common as they stay near the surface and are slow moving whales (and they tend to be more buoyant). Perhaps this is why they are so stressed when many boats are around.
Dolphins stranded in Cape Cod due to Climate Change?
Cape Cod is experiencing something really tragic this winter…a pod of dolphins, over 160 dolphins, have been found stranded. Rescue efforts went fairly well; however, almost 60 dolphins died. Some experts think that warm waters and climate change are responsible for the stranding.
Want to know more about marine mammal rescue? Check out this interview I did with Steve Marsh from the British Divers Marine Life Rescue.