Image Source: NW News Network
You have likely heard of the plight of orcas in the Pacific Northwest area. Scientists are studying and monitoring the dwindling population. So far, their efforts have not been successful at stalling the downfall of these whales. However, they are attempting a new method that could shed new light onto the beloved resident whales.
The new method is aimed at understanding the genetics of these animals better. The better we can understand their genetics, the more clues we have to help save them in the future.
The project is hoping to sequence the entire genome of over 100 southern resident whales. The genetic samples will be taken via skin and tissue samples from both living and dead whales. Any of the genetic material from dead whales will have been collected in the past 2 decades.
Within a year, the project hopes to have the genetic information ready for analysis. Based on the findings of this genetic work, scientists will have a direction for the future. Perhaps a small gene pool has left inbreeding problems, or a genetic mutation is affecting their immune systems. Whatever the case, scientists will know more once the genetic analysis has been completed.
It is impossible to guess what the genome sequencing project will find, but it is hoped that it will help scientists understand the needs of the whales better. With a better understanding, we will be better able to help the whales avoid extinction.
Learn more about the new project here.