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Scientists have long been fascinated with whales, the majestic giants of the sea who are both mammal, and thus familiar, yet completely foreign to most humans.While beautiful, their habitat happens to be the thoroughfare of world shipping and is the recipient of a large amount of the world’s pollution, both in terms of garbage and in terms of noise.

A highly auditory creature, whales often use distinct cries to communicate with others in their pod. It is often thought that the intense noise pollution caused by seaborne shipping has a deleterious impact on the health of whales.Now science is closer to finding an answer on how this impact’s whale health, and they’re using drones to find out.

Dr. Leigh Torres, an Oregon State University researcher, is using her technology to observe whales in a prime feeding area in Yaquina Bay, an area that also doubles as a prime fishing spot and is a busy traffic lane for coastal shipping.

Her research has revealed that not only do whales in this area have more difficulty communicating, but that this difficulty leads to higher levels of stress for the whales.

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