Do dolphins get the bends?
Thursday 9 October 2003
Behavioural, anatomical and physiological adaptations are thought to enable some marine mammal species to dive to considerable depths while avoiding diving-related illnesses such as decompression sickness
In a paper published in Nature, scientists from a UK Government-funded research programme co-ordinated by IoZ report the first evidence of gas bubbles and associated tissue trauma in six dolphins, a porpoise and a beaked whale from UK waters.
The paper also reports the pathological findings following an investigation conducted by the University of Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) into a mass stranding of beaked whales in the Canary Islands in September 2002. The beaked whale findings were consistent with, although not diagnostic of, acute tissue injury due decompression sickness in humans.
Although further research is needed to confirm the actual mechanism of these novel findings in both studies, the coincidence of the Canaries beaked whale mass stranding with a naval exercise using mid-frequency active sonar suggests that sonar exposure may have had a role in the pathogenesis of the beaked whale findings.
— ENDS —