Fido Sniffs Out Whale Poo - Oceana USA
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January 23, 2009

Fido Sniffs Out Whale Poo

Happy Friday! If you’re a dog AND cetacean admirer, like me, you’ll like this post. Last summer I wrote about how whale poop is a crucial tool in analyzing cetacean diet and population health. Well there’s a new twist (new to me, at least) — In her research on whale diet, one of my colleagues came across a fascinating paper written a few years ago. A group of scientists used specially trained dogs to sniff out endangered right whale poop, at which point they were able to analyze the whale’s stress levels, reproduction, biotoxin exposure and disease-causing protozoa.According to the abstract, poo-collection rates using the canine method were more than four times higher than opportunistic methods (read: waiting for poop to float their way). In other words, dogs can be a big help in saving the whales. Dogs have also been employed in similar research on the declining orca populations in the Pacific Northwest.