04 Sep '12, 8pm
Rescued Dog Becomes Whale Research Assistant
A dog named Tucker, once a stray on the streets of Seattle, is playing a vital role in saving orcas , an endangered species. Tucker, a black lab mix, bears the proud distinction of being the “world’s only working dog” who is trained to detect and follow the scent of orca scat in the open ocean, at distances of up to a mile away. Monitoring orcas is key to studying the health of the 85 or so who frequent the waters off the coast of the San Juan Islands. For decades, scientists have genotyped and tracked most of the whales. Some 500,000 tourists pay to see them in boats from May through October. But all those humans, who contribute greatly to the local economy, are changing the habits of the animals. The salmon that the orcas mostly feed on have taken to hiding under commercial whale-watch boats when being hunted. The orcas themselves seem to be resting more during the day a...