Dog to be world's first whale poop expert

May 22, 2006

University of Washington scientists are training an Australian cattle dog for an unusual assignment: detecting whale excrement to help the endangered mammals.

Researchers believe analyzing the substance will give them needed information to help save the marine mammals, Sam Wasser of the university's Center for Conservation Biology, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The dog, Gator, a dropout from drug-sniffing training (his gait was not acceptable), so far is able to identify heroin, marijuana and crack cocaine, as well as the droppings of such animals as grizzly bears, black bears, jaguars, wolverines, bobcats and cougars.

From the droppings, scientists isolate such substances as cortisol, various hormones and DNA to determine the animals' overall health.

Wasser says the center is building a training facility for wildlife scientists from around the world, the Post-Intelligencer said. The program has 11 dogs and has trained nearly 30 over the years. But Gator -- a 45-pound, unneutered 8-year-old -- might be destined for the record books as the world's first whale excrement expert.

Why isn't Gator neutered?

"It keeps his drive up," Wasser told the newspaper.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

Related Stories

Quantum dot TVs are unveiled at China tech expo

1 hour ago

At this month's China Information Technology Expo (CITE) event, a headline-maker was the launch of quantum dot televisions, by QD Vision and Konka, the consumer electronics company. QD Vision's calling card ...

A call to US educators: Learn from Canada

4 hours ago

As states and the federal government in the U.S. continue to clash on the best ways to improve American education, Canada's Province of Ontario manages successful education reform initiatives that are equal parts cooperation ...

Recommended for you

York's anti-malarial plant given Chinese approval

16 hours ago

A new hybrid plant used in anti-malarial drug production, developed by scientists at the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), is now registered as a new variety in China.

The appeal of being anti-GMO

21 hours ago

A team of Belgian philosophers and plant biotechnologists have turned to cognitive science to explain why opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has become so widespread, despite positive contributions ...

Micro fingers for arranging single cells

21 hours ago

Functional analysis of a cell, which is the fundamental unit of life, is important for gaining new insights into medical and pharmaceutical fields. For efficiently studying cell functions, it is essential ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

michelleponder
not rated yet Jan 21, 2009
Australian Cattle Dogs or Heelers are extremely intelligent dogs, no wonder if they be assigned a great task like this.

http://www.dogobe...ning.php

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.