Meet Dio, canine member of the team that’s working to help the ailing orca Scarlet (J-50). Dio is an ace sniffer dog, and his role is to direct the research vessel to where his colleagues can gather a sample of whale scat and take it back to the lab.
From our friends at @whalesanctuaryproject
Researchers can glean amazing amounts of information from whale poop (what scientists call “fecal data”) – like what they’re eating, reproductive status, stress level, environmental toxin levels – about the health of an individual animal and of the pod overall. And to get a good diagnosis of what’s ailing Scarlet and what medication she might best respond to, they need a good sample of her droppings.
But first they need to locate a fresh sample. And that’s Dio’s job. He’s everything you want in a sniffer dog and everything that a lot of people don’t want in a family pet: a dog who’s high-energy and obsessed with chasing after balls.
Dogs like Dio often end up at a shelter, and it can be hard to place a rambunctious, ball-obsessed dog in a family home. In Dio’s case, he was a young, stray Queensland heeler mix with an injury to his jaw, who was picked up and brought to the Humboldt County Animal Shelter in northern California. The shelter staff despaired of being able to find him a home because of his off-the-wall high energy. But a volunteer realized that he would be a great sniffer dog, and in August 2015 he found himself on his way north to the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology, where he joined the Conservation Canines Division.
Dio is one of 17 dogs, eight handlers and five lab staff at Conservation Canines, who can be working on anything from tracking down herds of caribou, to establishing the range of a pocket mouse or a barred owl, to Dio’s current assignment locating whale scat.
Photo: Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, under permit 18786. #J50 #dio #sniffer #dog #on #assignment #save #the #southern #resident #orcas