Scientists May Have New Way to Save Whales: Examine Their Mouths
Whale researchers believe they have found a new way to help protect the animals from dying off.
The researchers say they can study the mouths of dead whales to identify how often they faced serious threats, such as being hit by a ship.
American Rosalind Rolland is the lead scientist on the project. She and her team are with the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts. They reported their findings in the online publication Marine Mammal Science.
Rolland and her team studied baleen, a substance found in the upper part of the mouth of some kinds of whale. She explains that the baleen records each time the animal's stress hormone increases. Scientists can then read these records, similar to reading the rings on a tree.
Understanding the information is important because whales who often feel stressed are less likely to reproduce and more likely to become sick. That combination is not good for the whale population, which is already dangerously low.
20 times greater than normal
The scientists did their work on a whale that had become trapped in fishing equipment. It was finally killed by Inuit hunters who found it trying to swim in the equipment. The hunters said the whale seemed to lack energy. When scientists examined the dead whale, they found its mouth showed an increase in stress hormones 20 times greater than normal.
Their research comes as fishermen, government officials, and wildlife activists struggle with how to protect sea animals. Some whale species are dying off because climate change has affected their supply of food. Others are victims of accidents. For example, some scientists estimate that fishing equipment kills up to 300,000 whales and dolphins each year.
Stress is not only for humans
Regina Asmutis-Silvia is a biologist with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation in Massachusetts. She was not involved in the research, but she says it is important.
The study shows that getting caught in fishing equipment does not just limit a whale's movements or ability to eat, she says. Getting caught also changes the body's ability to fight disease, have babies, and even grow.
"We clearly understand that stress is bad for humans," she notes. But, she says, we also need to understand that stress is bad for other animals, too.
I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.
1.serious threats 严重威胁
Corruption and crime are serious threats to any society.
2.dying off 死亡；灭亡
The leaves of this plant are dying off.
3.involved in 涉及
They have been involved in a campaign of deceit.
4.lack energy 缺乏活力
His work seemed to lack energy.
5.The study shows that getting caught in fishing equipment does not just limit a whale's movements or ability to eat, she says.
get caught in 陷入
I hate to get caught in a traffic jam.
Did you get caught in a bad storm?
6.That combination is not good for the whale population, which is already dangerously low.
be good for 对...有益
They argued all the time and thought it couldn't be good for the baby.
It was not good for him to take any wine, but he drank with his eyes open.
美国人罗萨琳德·罗兰（Rosalind Rolland）是这一项目的首席科学家 。她和她的团队在马萨诸塞州波士顿的新英格兰水族馆工作 。他们将研究结果公布在在线刊物《海洋哺乳动物科学》上 。
罗兰和团队研究了鲸须，一种位于某些鲸类嘴巴上部的物质 。她解释称，鲸须记录下了每一次应激激素增加的情况 。科学家可以像读取树木年轮一样读取这些记录 。
了解这些信息很重要，因为经常感到压力的鲸鱼繁殖率可能很低，且更容易生病 。这两种表现对已经处于危险低水平的鲸鱼种群来说并不乐观 。
科学家们对一条被困在捕鱼设备中的鲸鱼进行了研究 。它最终被因纽特猎人杀死，他们发现它试图游泳 。猎人们称，这头鲸似乎有些精神不振 。科学家们对这头死鲸进行检查时发现，其嘴内应激激素含量比正常水平增加了20倍 。
他们进行研究时，渔民、政府官员和野生动物保护人士正在为如何保护海洋动物作斗争 。由于气候变化影响了鲸类的食物供应，一些鲸类正在灭绝 。其他鲸类则是死于事故 。例如，一些科学家估计，捕鱼设备每年杀死多达30万只鲸鱼和海豚 。
瑞吉娜·埃斯穆提斯-西尔维娅（Regina Asmutis-Silvia）是马萨诸塞州鲸类和海豚保护组织的生物学家 。她没有参与这项研究，但她说该研究十分重要 。
她说，研究表明，被捕鱼设备困住不仅会限制鲸鱼的活动或进食能力 。它还会改变身体抵御疾病、生育甚至生长的能力 。
“我们十分清楚，压力对人类健康是有害的，”她指出 。但是，她说，我们也要明白，压力对其他动物同样有害 。