New Techniques To Be Tried For Whale Operations

RIO VISTA, Calif., – Marine mammal biologists are back on the water this morning checking the humpback whales’ health and continuing to try different methods to move the animals past the Rio Vista Bridge downriver and out to the Pacific Ocean.

Researchers aboard a Vallejo Fire boat will also use a high-pressure fire hose to spray water into the river near the humpback whales to determine if they respond to the stimulus. Depending on their response, scientists may incorporate the method when operations to either lure or herd the animals down the river recommence Tuesday.

The veterinarians are considering the unprecedented administration of antibiotics to free-ranging whales as a result of continued concerns over the expanding necrosis and infection developing along their wounds. The medication and technique to dispense the dosage is still being developed.

Scientists may attempt to capture and analyze the air expelled from the whales when they exhale on the surface of the water over the weekend. The samples will be analyzed to determine the presence of ketones, a chemical byproduct of digestion. The results will take at least a week before results are available from the laboratory.

“If the chromatograph profile in both the mother and the calf are the same, then we will know that the calf is still nursing,” said Dr. Gulland. “If the calf has a different profile from the mother then we will know the calf is not nursing.”

During the Memorial Day weekend the 500-yard safety zone around the whales will be strictly enforced, and the U.S. Coast Guard will relay messages to the boating public on Channels 16 and 22A.

A phone line has been established for submitting suggestions about whale operations. Please call (916) 869-4661.

An email address has been established for the public to provided feedback about the whale rescue efforts at

More information can be found at

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