Study: Whales tan to protect themselves from sunburn

The AP reports:

Some pale whales appear to tan in order to protect themselves from sunburn, says a new study.

An international team of scientists took mitochondrial DNA samples from blue whales, fin whales and sperm whales to check for genetic damage from ultraviolet rays.

They found that higher melanin levels in the whale’s skin correlated with lower levels of skin lesions and DNA damage, suggesting melanin protects the ocean mammals from sun damage.

“We found molecular evidence that blue whales increase production of melanin, so this would indicate that they tan,” Karina Acevedo Whitehouse, a zoologist from the University of Queretaro in Mexico, and one of the authors of the study published Friday in the journal “Scientific Reports.”

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One thought on “Study: Whales tan to protect themselves from sunburn”

  1. Won’t they die from melanoma in thirty or forty years? Or, worse, get very wrinkled? No tanning bed for you, Humphrey!

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