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Whales Get the Bends

Whales Get the Bends

Scuba divers can get sick ascending too quickly from a deep dive. But can whales? To find out, biologist Michael Moore and colleagues at WHOI looked closely at a lesion in the rib of a dead sperm whale that beached on Nantucket in 2002. Their research, published in 2011 in Proceedings of The Royal Society B, concluded that the injury was likely caused by nitrogen bubbles that formed when the whale rose too rapidly from high-pressure depths. The bubbles, though tiny, obstructed blood flow and led to bone damage. More research on the health and conservation of whales and other marine animals can be found at WHOI's Marine Mammal Center. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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