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: Study finds marine protected areas inadequate for protecting fish and ocean ecology

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Airlines on alert as eruption begins in Iceland

4 hours ago

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano burst forth with a small eruption Saturday under the ice of Europe's largest glacier, scientists said, prompting the country to close airspace over the area.

Two Galileo satellites lose their way

7 hours ago

Two European Galileo satellites launched as part of a navigation system designed to rival GPS have failed to locate their intended orbit, launch firm Arianespace said Saturday.

Volcanic eruption begins under Iceland glacier

7 hours ago

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano began erupting Saturday under the country's largest glacier after a week of seismic activity rattled the area with thousands of earthquakes, the country's Meteorological Office ...

Recommended for you

Danish museum discovers unique gift from Charles Darwin

2 hours ago

The Natural History Museum of Denmark recently discovered a unique gift from one of the greatest-ever scientists. In 1854, Charles Darwin – father of the theory of evolution – sent a gift to his Danish ...

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