Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




WHALES AHOY
Stranded orcas hold critical clues for scientists
by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX) Jun 12, 2013


This killer whale was stranded off of California in 2005. Increased necropsies on stranded killer whales are helping scientists learn more about the species. Credit: Jeff K. Jacobsen/Humboldt State University.

The development of a standardized killer-whale necropsy system has boosted the complete data from killer-whale strandings from 2 percent to about 33 percent, according to a recent study from a team of scientists, including a University of California, Davis wildlife veterinarian.

The study, published recently in the journal Marine Mammal Science, suggests that the data can help scientists better understand the life history of the orca species.

The killer-whale necropsy system was co-developed by Joe Gaydos, director of the SeaDoc Society -- a program of the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center within the School of Veterinary Medicine -- and Stephen Raverty, veterinary pathologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture.

"Because killer whales are apex predators and flagship conservation species, strandings are sad events," said Gaydos. "But this study confirms that if we make every effort to understand why the strandings occurred, we will ultimately improve the fate of the species."

Gaydos and Raverty developed the standardized killer-whale necropsy system in 2004. The analysis of strandings since then has shown that the protocol, along with increased funding for southern resident killer-whale recovery, has increased the collection of complete data from killer-whale strandings. Traditionally only one in 50 stranded whale cadavers would be analyzed; now one in three get a full examination.

The increased recovery funding was provided by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

For the study, researchers analyzed North Pacific killer-whale strandings dating back to 1925. The report noted that while orcas are some of the most widely distributed whales on Earth, very few dead ones are ever found. Over the last two decades, an average of just 10 a year have been discovered stranded across the entire North Pacific Ocean.

"Each stranded orca should be viewed as a unique opportunity to enhance our understanding of this magnificent species," said co-author Raverty.

The study found that 88 percent of all reported killer-whale strandings are fatal, while only 12 percent of the stranded killer whales make it off the beach alive.

The dead whales can provide critical clues to the species' overall life history, genetics, and health, as well as the causes of death. With such limited opportunity to do comprehensive sampling and studies, the authors noted the disturbing fact that, until recently, less than 2 percent of dead killer whales were thoroughly examined.

While the study was designed to look at stranding trends and did not evaluate the causes, necropsies on beached orcas have shown that they absorb extremely high loads of manmade toxins, suffer from infectious diseases and, in the case of fish-eating populations, depend primarily on severely depleted salmon stocks. With the standardized protocol now in place -- providing much more complete data on strandings -- researchers are getting a clearer picture of killer-whale life and death.

"This was a herculean effort to learn more about one of the ocean's top predators," said lead author Michelle Barbieri, a former SeaDoc Society scientist and UC Davis graduate who is currently the lead veterinarian for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program.

"We could not have done this without the collaboration of dozens of killer-whale scientists from around the world, who provided stranding and population data from Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia, Mexico, Japan and Russia," she said.

Read the study here.

.


Related Links
University of California - Davis
Follow the Whaling Debate






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WHALES AHOY
Pressure on New Zealand to save world's rarest dolphin
Wellington (AFP) June 10, 2013
New Zealand is facing pressure to save the world's rarest dolphin at an international scientific meeting underway this week in what conservationists say is a test of the nation's "clean, green" credentials. The Maui's dolphin, found only in shallow waters off the North Island's west coast, is listed as critically endangered, with just 55 adults remaining and experts fearing it will disappear ... read more


WHALES AHOY
Sandbags and raw nerves as flood peak hits Germany

More radioactive leaks reported at Fukushima plant

Japan disaster cash spent on counting turtles: report

Agreement over Statue of Liberty security screening

WHALES AHOY
Sony eyes long game despite console launch triumph

Two New Russian Radars to Start Work Next Year

Sony wins opening skirmish in new-gen console war

Study: Moving business software to cloud promises big energy savings

WHALES AHOY
AU urges Egypt and Ethiopia to hold talks on Nile row

Unfrozen mystery: H2O reveals a new secret

Chagos Islanders lose UK marine park challenge

Egypt eyes Nile deal with Ethiopia

WHALES AHOY
Ancient trapped water explains Earth's first ice age

US senators urge Obama to block Alaska mine

Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic

NASA's IceBridge Mission Contributes to New Map of Antarctica

WHALES AHOY
How does inbreeding avoidance evolve in plants

How do you feed nine billion people

China approves imports of GM soybean from Brazil

Biotech crops vs. pests: Successes and failures from the first billion acres

WHALES AHOY
Merkel urges greater flood protection as tours region

Germany begins to count cost as floods surge north

Merkel visits flooded region as Hungary waters recede

Earthquake acoustics can indicate if a massive tsunami is imminent

WHALES AHOY
First pictures of Algeria's Bouteflika since mini-stroke

Gunfire at paramilitary barracks in Niger capital: residents

'Scorched earth' tactics in Sudan's Blue Nile: Amnesty

Rwandan general to command Mali UN force

WHALES AHOY
Weapons testing data determines brain makes new neurons into adulthood

World's 'oldest woman' dies in China: family

Geneticist speculates humans could have big eyes, foreheads in future

How similar are the gestures of apes and human infants? More than you might suspect




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement