You don’t have to kill whales to study them

This video from the USA is called Humpback Whales Monterey Bay 9/15/07.

From New Scientist:

Whale’s diet revealed in its doo-doo

* 01 December 2007

* Magazine issue 2632

Want to find out what whales eat? There’s no need to cut them open, just wait until they relieve themselves.

One of the reasons given by the Japanese government for its “scientific” whaling programme is to learn more about the animals’ diet. Now Stacy DeRuiter at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and her team have developed a way of investigating diet by identifying mitochondrial DNA from the remains of the prey in a whale’s faeces.

The team has collected samples from several cetacean species and discovered, for example, that faeces from Blainville’s beaked whale contain DNA evidence of bony fish, including gulper eel. It had been thought to dine primarily on squid.

“It’s now certainly the case that we can get as good diet information from DNA analysis of faeces as we can from dead whales – probably better,” says Simon Jarman of the Australian Antarctic Division …

3 thoughts on “You don’t have to kill whales to study them

  1. Japanese whaling like ‘Nazi experiments’

    From correspondents in Santiago

    November 29, 2007 08:44am
    Article from: Agence France-Presse

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    A CHILEAN politician has likened Japan’s declarations it hunts whales for scientific reasons to medical research the Nazis conducted on humans.

    “The Japanese should not be the Nazis of the present time; only the Nazis assassinated thousands of people for research,” said Senato Guido Girardi of the ruling centre-left Concertacion alliance.

    “It is not true that scientific research requires killing; that would be like saying that to do scientific research on humans one has to kill them first,” said Mr Girardi.

    Despite international protests, Japan’s whaling fleet set off earlier this month to hunt in the Antarctic.

    Japan, which argues that whale meat is part of its culture, plans to kill 950 whales on the five-month mission, using a loophole in a global moratorium that allows “lethal research” on the giant mammals.

    Japan’s whaling program is particularly controversial this year because there are plans to kill 50 humpback whales, which opponents say are still endangered.

    Chile has been vocal in criticising the whale hunt and wants to present a new initiative before the International Whaling Commission next year in a bid to combat the practice.,23599,22840843-23109,00.html


  2. Pingback: Penguin photographer in New Zealand | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: New beaked whale species re-discovery | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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