Brave New World: Thinner Ozone Layer Means Whales Are Changing Color?

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Sergio Moraes / Reuters

Thanks to ozone-eating chemicals, one study suggests that whales could be in for long-term suffering.

The AP reports that a team of European scientists have found that whales off the coast of Mexico are enduring severe sunburns possibly attributed to a damaged ozone layer. The group studied a set of the mammals for three years in the Gulf of California. They collected skin samples, finding that the creatures exhibited dead-cell patterns stemming from ultraviolet radiation.

The link to the ozone layer rests in the fact that the Earth’s stratosphere is essential to blocking UV rays. Increased CFCs have thinned the ozone layer (which houses 90% of the Earth’s ozone), resulting in perilous ramifications for creatures like whales.

For humans, the solution is simple: head over to your local store, buy some clothing or sunscreen and call it a day. Yet, the wire service notes that seafaring creatures travel to water surfaces for various purposes, from breathing to feeding their young. Lacking protective fur or feathers, whales are essentially naked when it comes to facing the sun.