Marine Mammal Stress

Project Overview: Our research attempts to quantify both individual, species and population patterns of intrinsic and extrinsic stressors through time (i.e. by age and year) using whale earplugs and baleen. Stressors and their response (stress/behavior) can be quantified over time to determine potential interactions. Our goal is to establish the contribution of stressors to the overall stress profile of this sentinel species.

A Brief Introduction – Whale Earplugs

  • Baleen whales produced cerumen (wax) continuously over the entirety of their life forming a earplug
  • Earplug sizes range from 2 to 50+ cm (2g to 800+g)
  • Earplug are encased the auditory canal and composed of lipids, wax, and keratin
  • Lamina (layers) can be distinct; historically used as aging tool

Earplug Plug Research

Usenko Research Group

Trumble Research Group