When you play fetch with a killer whale, it makes an impression. When you play fetch with a killer whale and you’re only 7 years old, it can change your life. For Renee Albertson, the change was a long time in the making.
A dolphin’s dorsal fin can be as distinctive as a human fingerprint. As the fin slices through the sea, its unique pattern of pigments, nicks and scars relays the animal’s personal story to observers on the surface. Often, scientists can use these markings to ID individual dolphins. But for some species, fin IDs are not precise enough. That’s why researchers like Oregon State University Ph.D. student Rebecca Hamner have turned to DNA.
OSU graduate student Carrie Newell has discovered that the difference may stem from the relative abundance of tiny shrimp-like zooplankton called mysids, a gray whale delicacy.