Whale-watching season is delighting the viewing public along the east Australian coast but while it’s a boon for the tourism industry, for the majestic humpback whale it’s potentially a time of less optimal health.
UNSW Sydney researchers collected and analysed samples of whale blow – similar to mucus from a human nose – and found “significantly less” microbial diversity and richness on the return leg of the whales’ migration, indicating the whales were likely in poorer health than when their journey began.
Microbial diversity accounts for the wide array of microorganisms – the smallest forms of life. MORE
Header image: A humpback whale migrates along the east Australian coast during UNSW whale researcher Dr Catharina Vendl’s study in Hervey Bay, Queensland, in 2017. Credit: Catharina Vendl.