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Images: How to See What Whales Hear

READY TO SCAN—Postdoctoral Investigator Soraya Moein Bartol and Senior Research Assistant Scott Cramer position an Atlantic white-sided dolphin, which stranded and died, on the WHOI CT scanner bed before imaging, while CT technologist Julie Arruda (front) examines previously generated images. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, WHOI.)

INTERNAL EARS—A 3-D image generated from a CT scan highlights selected tissue groups of a bottlenose dolphin?s head. It shows the relationships of the exterior skin (blue), brain (pink), inner ear bones (red), and specialized auditory fats (orange). The fats form paired lobes inside the head along the jaw and are very similar in shape to the outer ear flaps (pinnae) of bats. (Courtesy of Darlene Ketten, WHOI)

VISIBLE HEARING?This 3-D CT scan image of a blue whale?s inner ear (18 millimeters in diameter) shows typical mammalian inner ear structure, including a spiral cochlea and the vestibular system that controls balance. (Courtesy of Darlene Ketten, WHOI)

A SECRET SEEN?This 3-D image shows an intact, near-term fetus discovered inside an Atlantic white-sided dolphin that stranded and died. The fetus?s flippers are folded and its ribs are lightly mineralized, but the cross-section reveals fully matured ears. (Courtesy of Darlene Ketten, WHOI)

RARE VIEW—CT scan of an entire Kogia (pygmy sperm whale) illustrates the advantages of this instrument. It reveals the skin and outer structure (including fins), and the fully articulated skeleton in its normal configuration, from any selected perspective, without cutting into the specimen. (Courtesy of Darlene Ketten, WHOI)

CLOSE TO HER WORK—Wearing fisherman?s cold-water gear, Darlene Ketten (left) stands in the mouth of a stranded humpback whale towed ashore on a Newfoundland beach in 1998. Working as quickly as possible, she and Jon Lien of St. John?s University, Newfoundland, remove biopsy samples and the inner ears to determine if it was injured by nearby explosions for a construction project. (Courtesy of Darlene Ketten, WHOI)