Using Dogs to Track Killer Whales

by Owen James Burke

orcascat Using Dogs to Track Killer Whales

Orca whales are becoming malnourished in the Haro Strait, according to the research a black labrador has been conducting for the University of Washington.

Tucker, a black lab trained in tracking animal scat, has been deployed throughout the last three summers to collect orca scat samples in the Haro Strait, between the San Juan Islands and Vancouver. In 2006 and 2008, he helped to track down 130 samples.

The findings? The University of Washington has been testing hormones in the scat, concluding that mortality rate is the highest when thyroid hormones are low. Slowed metabolisms are dangerous for the whales because then they begin to metabolize their fat, which contains toxicants that should not be released into their bodies. Other research points to increased stress in the presence of boat traffic, something Tucker hasn’t yet learned how to monitor.

*via seattletimes and foxspokane*