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Keywords:

  • blubber;
  • biopsy;
  • pregnancy;
  • progesterone;
  • minke whale;
  • Balaenoptera acutorostrata;
  • free-ranging

Abstract

Measurement of progesterone concentration in blubber was developed as a method to detect pregnancy in minke whales. Progesterone was extracted and quantified from blubber samples of minke whale carcasses by radioimmunoassay. Results showed a highly significant difference (almost 60-fold) between blubber progesterone concentrations of anatomically determined pregnant females versus non-pregnant female or male carcasses. The results of the study suggest that the blubber progesterone concentrations might be used to determine pregnancy status in free-ranging whales.