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Killer whales migrate to exfoliate

Posted by Strandings Officer on Oct 26, 2011 5:36:16 PM

We ladies have been known to go to great lenghts for softer skin but new research suggests killer whales may be showing us all up!

 

A new study for the first time shows that some killer whales wander nearly 10,000 kilometres from Antarctica's Southern Ocean into tropical waters - but not to feed or breed.

  
Rather, these fearsome predators at the apex of the marine food chain traverse the sea at top speed, slowing as they reach warmer climes to exfoliate, the study speculates.
  
They are driven, in other words, by the urge or need to make their skin all shiny and new.
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Durban and Pitman suspect that killer whales move into warmer waters in order to shed a layer, along with an encrustation of single-celled algae called diatoms, without freezing to death.
  
Orcas are the smallest cetaceans, a group including whales and dolphins, which live for extended periods in subzero Antarctic waters. Replacing and repairing outer skin in waters where the surface temperature is minus 1.9 degree Celsius, may be dangerous, even lethal.
  
Surface temperatures at the killer whales' tropical destinations, by contrast, were a balmy 20.9 to 24.2 C.

Original source: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1599657/latest-from-wire/

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