SeaWorld orca takes part in heart monitoring study - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SeaWorld orca takes part in heart monitoring study

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A scientist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is conducting a heart monitoring study on a 50-year-old whale at SeaWorld San Diego to get data that can be used to help orcas in the wild, park officials said Tuesday.

The work by research physiologist Paul Ponganis is being conducted on Corky, who was outfitted with suction cups that contained electrodes.

Ponganis is hoping to develop reliable techniques to record electrocardiograms on whales while they are in the water, document cardiac characteristics at rest and during exercise, and develop reliable suction cup attachment techniques that can ultimately be applied to large whales in the wild, according to SeaWorld.

The results will provide baseline measurements that can be used for future studies.

"It's important for us to understand how heart rate is regulated in the animal, what the normal range of heart rates are, and then eventually, as we develop these techniques, we'll be able to apply these to animals in the wild," Ponganis told 10News.

Ponganis is also studying other animals in the park. The availability of marine life at SeaWorld allows a controlled environment in which to conduct the research and gather data while the subjects are at rest, and during various swimming and diving behaviors, park officials said.

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