With fewer than 300 northern right whales remaining, the seriously endangered species may face yet another obstacle to recovery. The right whale is regularly exposed to the neurotoxins responsible for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) through feeding on contaminated zooplankton. These toxins could affect respiratory capabilities, feeding behavior, and ultimately the reproduction condition of the whale population.
In the current issue of the journal Harmful Algae, a team of scientists, led by University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO) biologist Edward Durbin, describes how north Atlantic right whales, feeding in Grand Manan Basin in the lower Bay of Fundy in late summer, are exposed to PSP toxins from feeding directly on the contaminated copepod Calanus finmarchicus.
Other members of the scientific team include Gregory Teegarden, St. Joseph’s College, Standish, ME; Robert Campbell, GSO; Allan Cembella, Institute for Marine Biosciences, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; and Mark F. Baumgartner and Bruce R. Mate, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University.
Lisa Cugini | EurekAlert!
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