Ahh, I love basking in the sun! Up to six hours a day in between dives. Hello, I’m a sperm whale, and my name is Enigma. Scientists took a sample of my skin using a modified crossbow and arrowhead, and compared it to over a hundred other sperm, blue, and fin whales in the Gulf of California. Guess what? They found that the three types of whales had three different ways to deal with UV exposure at the surface of the ocean.
1. Fin whales have high levels of melanin, the same type of pigment that helps humans tan.
2. Blue whales tan (much like humans) in their summer feeding grounds.
3. Sperm whales have proteins that protect them at a cellular level. That is similar to humans, who produce antioxidants in response to free radicals (which can cause cell or DNA damage) produced while exposed to the sun.
So why is studying whales like me important?
1. Due to the ozone layer deteriorating, us whales are exposed to more UV light than in the past. This is causing more skin lesions and other skin problems in whales. These skin problems could potentially cause cancer too.
2. Since we spend so much time at the surface, scientists can also measure our exposure to UV light over time to measure the health of the oceans.
3. The research done on whales can help scientists better understand the aging process and cancer in humans.
Although humans have natural defenses against the sun’s damaging rays, don’t forget to use an eco-friendly and biodegradable sunscreen, especially if you enter the ocean!
The Real Fish of Finding Nemo
The Real Fish of Finding Nemo Part 2
The Real Animals (and Fish!) of Finding Dory
10 Amazing Facts About Sea Otters
10 Interesting Facts About Killer Whales, or Orcas
10 Awesome Facts About Cuttlefish
10 Fascinating Facts About Piranhas
10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Sea Sponges
Subscribe to Blog via Email
Manta Rays Have Social Lives!
Interview with Shark Scientist Melissa Cristina Marquez
Interview with Shark Researcher Kristian Parton
Meet Deep Blue—the Largest Great White Shark Ever Filmed
- Wisdom the Albatross Has Hatched a New Chick!
Ocean Animals and the Mirror Self Recognition Test
10 Fabulous Facts About the Sea Cucumber
What Is Bioluminescence and Why Do So Many Deep-Sea Animals Have It?
10 Fun Facts About the Opah Fish, or Moonfish
Interview With Dr. Deni Ramirez Macias, Whale Shark Researcher
10 Cool Facts About Polar Bears
Book Review: The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor
10 Not-So-Scary Facts About Tiger Sharks
10 Cool Facts about Narwhals
Children’s Book Review: On Kiki’s Reef by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner
Follow me on Twitter!Follow @@protectoceans
- 10 facts
- Book Reviews
- Endangered Animals of Finding Nemo
- Guest Posts
- Marine Mammals
- Other animals
- Other Marine Animals
- People and the Ocean
- Sea Turtles
- Tweets of the Week
Search this Blog
- 10 facts
- book reviews
- endangered species
- Finding Nemo
- global warming
- Great White Shark
- guest post
- guest posts
- humpback whale
- manta ray
- manta rays
- marine mammals
- Monterey Bay Aquarium
- ocean acidification
- plastic pollution
- sea level rise
- Sea otters
- sea turtles
- shark finning
- tweets of the week
- whale shark