Last week on one of our “Eagles and Orcas” one-day sea kayak tours, guests were treated to a visit by an extra-special San Juan Islander. “A whale?” you might wonder. Well, guess again. His name is Tucker, and he is not a whale or a person but a black Labrador retriever whose job it is to sniff out whale poop off the coast of San Juan Island.
For the past several years, Tucker has worked tirelessly with a team of researchers from the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology. Their goal? To find and collect samples of whale dung for research purposes. Strange as it may sound, whale dung is a highly sought-after commodity among these scientists; even a small sample of the stuff can provide a wealth of information about the animal’s sex, eating habits, stress levels, hormone levels, reproductive health, and levels of ingested toxins.
With Orcas listed as endangered species, and three resident pods of Orca whales living right here off the west coast of San Juan Island—numbering around ninety whales in total—Tucker and his team continue to make huge contributions to Orca research and protection.
For more information about Tucker, follow the links below.
Particularly amusing, I thought: Tucker hates the water! (Although he does love attention, and, judging from this video, he also likes kisses.)
Join Outdoor Odysseys this summer for a one- or three-day sea kayaking tour in the San Juan Islands and a chance to see tucker or some of his dorsal-finned friends!