I HAVE BEEN COLLECTING WHALE POOP ALL MORNING (AND OTHER THINGS YOU COULD HAVE LIVED WITHOUT KNOWING)

November 17, 2010

Together, we’ve spent 18 years in university.  We put our advanced degrees to work collecting whale poop.

OUR MOTHERS ARE VERY PROUD.

But we have a perfectly good reason for scooping whale poop.  Our colleagues at University of Washington have pioneered methods to extract hormones from whale feces.  Like a human pregnancy test that uses urine, high-tech methods at UW’s Center for Conservation Biology allow us to study whale diet, stress hormones and possibly toxic contaminant levels from non-invasively collected samples.  The UW team trained a sniffer dog to smell the scat samples at long range.  We’re jealous.  So far, our dog is more interested in dolphins than scat.  Go figure.

Ultimately, we aim to link the stress hormones we measure in the whale poop to the noise levels we measure on the hydrophones.  Which is a perfectly rational reason for collecting whale poop.  Right?

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