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A study reveals blowhole spray may provide information on whale health

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Scientists no longer have to collect poop to get key data on the health of endangered right whales.

A new study indicates scientists, under the right conditions, can quickly obtain hormonal data by collecting the spray from whales’ blowholes at sea.

The study by scientists with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium was published Tuesday in the journal, Scientific Reports. The team used a boat with long poles to capture 100 blow samples from 46 right whales.

The lead author of the study said the new method provides real-time hormone data compared to fecal samples and biopsies.

Hormone levels can help scientists determine how right whales respond to stresses from human-related activities, injuries and reproduction.

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