By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Soak up the rays, flash that whale tail for all to see, and dive into the ocean my fine watery friends! Just don’t forget to put on some tanning oils. Those enormous sea foam spouting whales love drinking in the warm sun, according to a study that analyzed skin samples from blue, fin, and sperm whales in Mexico’s Gulf of California. A team from Newcastle University, UK found that grey skins darken as the ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun gets intense from February to May. Damage to skin cell DNA was reduced as the whales’ skin darkened, showing that melanin – which allows our skin to disperse more than 99.9% of absorbed UV radiation as heat – works just as well for whales. One of the researchers, Mark Birch-Machin, says that the results of their study are the first to show that animals rely on pigments – skin color – to shield themselves from the sun.
Featured image courtesy of “Mike” Michael L. Baird on Wikipedia.