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Orcas breath found to consist bacteria and fungi: Discovered microbes are antibiotic-resistants

By Mharia Emmareen | Mar 25, 2017 02:24 AM EDT
Orcas' breath contain a lot of microbes which are considered good and bad.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons/Robert Pittman - NOAA)

As orcas surface to the water to exhale, it spews a wide range of both fungi and bacteria from its breath. According to scientists, some might be good but some will cause harm like the salmonella.

What the new research discovered was alarming due to the possible capacity of communicable diseases. The findings are considerably a further significant stress aspect regarding the beleaguered Puget Sound orcas population which is one of the many endangered animal species.

Based on the study published in the Scientific Reports journal, the samples that are taken from an orca breath shows bacteria that could promote diseases. The findings revealed that some of the microbes are resilient to antibiotics commonly used by animals and human where both wastes could have contaminated the oceanic environment, Phys.org reported.

Marine biologists trailed the killer whales as they make their way to the waters of the Washington state and patiently wait for the orcas to emerge from the waters and exhale. The researchers aboard the boat collected samples by swinging a pole about 25 feet long together with several Petri dishes to collect droplets from the orca's blow hole once it exhaled.

Because of the distinctive breath samplings gathered for four years, scientists were able to determine the different range of bacteria as well as fungi included in the respired breath of the northeastern Pacific Ocean orcas. The population of these killer whales from Puget Sound has declined to 78 according to recent studies.

British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford veterinary pathologist, Stephen Raverty, said, "They're recruiting the bacteria in their habitats."

Meanwhile, orcas have been reported to return to Puget Sound. Last year, six deaths of the southern resident killer whales have been recorded, according to Kiro7.

Orcas diet is made up of mainly Chinook salmon but the fish population has been halved since 1980. Some of the found whales' bodies that died revealed different factors. Others perished of starvation, trauma from boat run-ins while some died of diseases.

Researchers are in endeavors to produce individual health records for every endangered orca which are profoundly followed and pictured. Each Puget Sound orcas are distinguished by its exceptionally black and white patterns or distinction in the shapes of their fins and each killer whale was tagged with a name and number.

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