Stephen Trumble and Sascha Usenko, have found a new resource for tracking toxins in the marine environment … blue whale ear wax.
Trumble and Usenko are a marine mammal physiologist and an environmental chemist, respectively, at Baylor University. The idea came to them one day when pondering “ear plugs” in whales for aging them.
Similar to sampling sediment cores, the ear wax provides a year by year history of pollution in the environment. The resulting paper has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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Blue whale image from Shutterstock.