Bacteria That Cause Human Diseases Found in Orca Blowholes

  |   Tech News

In a new study last week of the West's southern resident killer whales, scientists captured infectious agents not typically associated with whales in exhalations from the animals' blowholes. Some of these pathogens were even antibiotic-resistant. That led scientists to suspect these orcas may increasingly be exposed to dangerous microbes that are being flushed into coastal waterways by storm runoff or sewage.

"These animals spend a fair amount of time in ecosystems close to urban environments," says Brad Hanson, who oversees orca recovery for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Because of runoff, either directly or indirectly, there are a variety of things that may be getting into their system."

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