Breath sampling. Credit: Pete Schroeder
Droplets and exhaled breath caught from the blowholes of killer whales along the Pacific coast are providing scientists with insights into whale health and revealing bacteria and fungi that may be a threat to the mammals.
“We wanted to find out what sort of bacteria and fungi are present in healthy whales and the potential pathogens they are being exposed to in their environment,” said Stephen Raverty, the lead author on the study and an adjunct professor at UBC’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries. “In some circumstances, these pathogenic microbes could pose a threat to the animals and contribute to clinical disease.”