Scientists Use Strandings to Bring Species to Life

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Science  07 Sep 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5536, pp. 1754-1757
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5536.1754

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ASSATEAGUE ISLAND, VIRGINIA-- Marine scientists have spent decades trying to better understand the lives--and deaths--of seagoing mammals by examining the thousands of whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and manatees that wash up on shore each year. The growing interest in stranding work, however, is dogged by debate. Some researchers and animal-welfare advocates want to pull out all the stops to rehabilitate and release the animals back into the wild--at upward of $1 million for a large whale. But others say that it's often more humane--and more fiscally prudent--to euthanize some of the victims and invest more in the mundane job of analyzing the samples that are harvested.