Migrations of California Gray Whales Tracked by Oxygen-18 Variations in Their Epizoic Barnacles

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Science  15 Feb 1980:
Vol. 207, Issue 4432, pp. 759-760
DOI: 10.1126/science.207.4432.759


Barnacles attached to the California gray whale have oxygen isotope compositions that serve as a record of changing ocean temperatures as the whale migrates between arctic and subtropical waters. The isotopic values for the barnacles can be used to track whale migrations and to reconstruct the recent movements of beached whales. The method may be useful for tracing the movements of other animals, living or fossil, and for reconstructing the voyages of ancient ships.