Snot for Science: Tracking Stress Levels in Manitoba’s Belugas


Snot for Science: Tracking Stress Levels in Manitoba’s Belugas

October 22 2021

Can we measure the stress of Manitoba’s beluga whales…using their snot?

That’s what #SnotForScience aims to find out. The hashtag is part of a research project by Justine Hudson, studying how climate change and human activity affect the stress levels of beluga whales. She spent two summers in Churchill, Manitoba, collecting snot from free-swimming beluga whales and measuring cortisol, an indicator of stress.

An estimated 55,000 beluga whales (one-third of the world’s population) migrate into the Churchill, Seal, and Nelson river estuaries each summer. But with longer ice-free periods in the Arctic sea, these belugas are becoming more vulnerable to increased ship traffic, hydroelectric development and predation from orca whales.

Join us for a free CPAWS Manitoba webinar with Justine Hudson, creator of #SnotForScience and a marine mammal research technician at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as she discusses what she learned from studying Western Hudson Bay’s belugas. Find out how she managed to successfully collect snot, the results of the research, and what it all means for the future of Manitoba’s belugas.

About the Speaker:

Justine Hudson is a marine mammal research technician at Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Winnipeg. She completed her MSc in 2020 at the University of Manitoba where she studied belugas and bowhead whales in the Canadian Arctic. Justine is interested in studying hormones to better understand the lives of Arctic marine mammals and the potential impacts of climate change and human activity.

Snot For Science: Tracking Stress Levels in Manitoba’s Belugas from CPAWS Manitoba on Vimeo.

Lunch and Learns

Nature has been here for us during the pandemic.

CPAWS Manitoba wants to maintain this positive connection to nature by providing a space for Manitobans to connect online from the safety of our homes and be inspired by nature in our backyards and beyond.

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This program is possible thanks to the generous support of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Conservation Trust, a Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative delivered by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.

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