Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The London Whale

Interesting story about why the London whale, that fascinated the media at the weekend, died while being rescued. It was suffering from dehydration as well as other factors
Preliminary results from the examination found the northern bottlenose whale had died from a combination of factors including dehydration, muscle damage and a reduction of kidney function as it headed west looking for squid.

But the interesting fact, that I did not know, is whales get their water from their food. So when the whale could not find food to eat it got dehydrated and eventually died.
Announcing the result Dr Paul Jepson, the ZSL veterinary pathologist, said: "Whales and dolphins obtain water from their food, and northern bottlenose whales normally feed on deep water squid in the Atlantic.

"This animal would not have been able to feed while in the North Sea, and so would have become dehydrated.

For mammals that swim in the sea this seems like a little bit of an evolutionary flaw, surely there would be abetter biological way to filter salt water into drinking water. Though then again I guess it is also a clever way for nature to keep the number of whales in balance with their food supply.

[Via The Guardian]

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