[MARMAM] New Publication: Respiration Cycle Duration and Seawater Flux through open blowholes

maria clara martins mariaclaramartins at yahoo.co.uk
Sat May 30 03:48:37 PDT 2020

Dear MARMAM community,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce our recent publication in Marine Mammal Science:

Martins, MCI, Miller, C, Hamilton, P, Robbins, J, Zitterbart, DP, Moore, M. Respiration cycle duration and seawater flux through open blowholes of humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and North Atlantic right (Eubalaena glacialis) whales. Mar Mam Sci. 2020; 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/mms.12703

ABSTRACT: Little is known about the dynamics of baleen whale respiratory cycles, especially the mechanics and activity of the blowholes and their interaction with seawater. In this study, the duration of complete respiration cycles (expiration/inhalation events) were quantified for the first time in two species: North Atlantic right whale (NARW) and humpback whale (HW) using high resolution, detailed imagery from an unoccupied aerial system (UAS). The mean duration of complete respiration cycles (expiration/inhalation event) in the NARW and HW were 3.07 s (SD = 0.503, n = 15) and 2.85 s (SD = 0.581, n = 21), respectively. Furthermore, we saw no significant differences in respiration cycle duration between age and sex classes in the NARW, but significant differences were observed between age classes in the HW. The observation of seawater covering an open blowhole was also quantified, with NARW having 20% of all breaths with seawater presence versus 90% in HW. Seawater incursion has not been described previously and challenges the general consensus that water does not enter the respiratory tract in baleen whales. Prevalent seawater has implications for the analysis and interpretation of exhaled respiratory vapor/mucosa samples, as well as for the potential inhalation of oil in spills.

The full article is open access, and available online: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mms.12703

Please feel free to contact me (maria.martins.15 at ucl.ac.uk) with any questions

All the best,
Maria Clara Iruzun Martins

Master of Research Alumna Biodiversity, Evolution and Conservation, University College London 

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