Scientists in the Field

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The Whale Scientists: Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings

By Fran Hodgkins

They began as land creatures. Then, for more plentiful food, or so scientists believe, whales made the water their home and evolved into the colossal, majestic creatures of the sea that we know today—the same majestic creatures that humans learned to hunt and kill: first for food and then for oil, soap, candles, furniture, and even waspwaist corsets. Rich in meat, blubber, bone, and baleen, the whale served so many purposes for humans that its stranding was seen as a gift from the sea. But now, with their numbers diminished worldwide, whales have become the subject of scientific study. Humans hunt now for a deeper understanding of cetaceans.

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