Respiratory illnesses in particular are a major cause of mortality in marine mammals. We propose that the respiratory microbiota, measured from the blow of free-swimming whales, could be a novel yet non-invasive indirect health proxy. Our past studies of captive dolphins have shown that these communities are stable and we are now working with humpback whales.
WILDLIFE MICROBIOME AND HEALTH
There are tight links between mammals and their microbial symbionts. Recent research in humans demonstrated the importance and mutuality of these commensal microbial communities, the microbiome, and its importance for a stable immune system and an animal’s general health.