Aging Whales: Underwater Advantage

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ambience whale sounds

Bowhead whales may live to be over 100 years old and scientists are trying to figure out the secrets of their longevity. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“Most terrestrial mammals have a maximum life spans of 60, 80 years, and we assumed that that was also the case for whales. But what we’re finding now, especially with the Bowheads – we’re getting ages that are falling well in excess of a hundred years, so these probably are the oldest living mammals that we know of today.”

Jeffery Bada is a Professor of Marine Chemistry at the University of California in San Diego.

“The other interesting thing about these animals that are over 100 years old, they appear to be in perfect health. They appear to be robust physically, and very active. Boy, I mean, how do they do it? How do they escape the old age problems that are associated with, with us? I think we have a lot to learn from these old guys.”

Bada and his colleagues think that the Bowhead whales’ longevity might have something to do with the low impact conditions of life underwater.

“It’s telling us that perhaps marine environments is a much better place to live. If you have water to keep you buoyant, maybe you’re not having all the wear and tear on your body that we have to deal with on the land. When we have to fight gravity all the time. Maybe that helps them live longer. I don’t know. So there’s a lot of interesting aging aspects, to explore as this research goes on.”

Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Aging Whales: Underwater Advantage

Life underwater may be the fountain of youth for Bowhead whales.
Air Date:04/23/2010
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience whale sounds

Bowhead whales may live to be over 100 years old and scientists are trying to figure out the secrets of their longevity. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"Most terrestrial mammals have a maximum life spans of 60, 80 years, and we assumed that that was also the case for whales. But what we're finding now, especially with the Bowheads - we're getting ages that are falling well in excess of a hundred years, so these probably are the oldest living mammals that we know of today."

Jeffery Bada is a Professor of Marine Chemistry at the University of California in San Diego.

"The other interesting thing about these animals that are over 100 years old, they appear to be in perfect health. They appear to be robust physically, and very active. Boy, I mean, how do they do it? How do they escape the old age problems that are associated with, with us? I think we have a lot to learn from these old guys."

Bada and his colleagues think that the Bowhead whales' longevity might have something to do with the low impact conditions of life underwater.

"It's telling us that perhaps marine environments is a much better place to live. If you have water to keep you buoyant, maybe you're not having all the wear and tear on your body that we have to deal with on the land. When we have to fight gravity all the time. Maybe that helps them live longer. I don't know. So there's a lot of interesting aging aspects, to explore as this research goes on."

Please visit our website at pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music