"Invaluable collection" of North Atlantic right whale DNA finds home at Saint Mary's

A right whale entangled in fishing rope.

A right whale entangled in fishing rope.

Dr. Tim Frasier’s lab will now house a “scientifically invaluable collection” of North Atlantic right whale DNA, comprised of about 420 samples collected over decades.

Frasier is an Associate Professor at Saint Mary’s (Biology and the Forensic Science Program) and has been conducting genetic analyses on the North Atlantic right whale since 1999, when he began his graduate work in the laboratory of Dr. Brad White (then at McMaster University, now at Trent University). 

White, who had a forensic wildlife DNA lab at Trent Univeristy, recently retired and donated the entire collection to Frasier’s lab, which will work to add to the collection to help more quickly identify the critically endangered whales.

With only about 417 right whales left in the world and low reproductive rates, the species is critically endangered. The plight of the whales captured significant attention from media, government and the scientific community in 2017, when at least 15 whales died in North Atlantic waters.

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