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tins of whale meat

How Japan’s whaling industry is trying to convince people to eat whales

Japan's hunters kill hundreds of whales every year despite the fact that hardly anyone in...
Common dolphins © Christopher Swann

Did you know dolphins have personalities?

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...
Microplastics on beach

Blue whales and the menace of microplastics – how we’ll solve this problem

Our love affair with plastic began in the 1950s when it revolutionised manufacturing. But what...
A dolphin called Arnie with his shell.

Dolphins catch fish using giant shell tools

In Shark Bay, Australia, two groups of dolphins have figured out how to use tools...
Common dolphins at surface

Did you know that dolphins have unique personalities?

We all have personalities, and between the work Christmas party and your family get-together, perhaps...
Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

We know we need to save the whale to save the world. Now we are...
Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

Meet Holly, she’s an incredible orca leader

Let me tell you the story of an awe-inspiring orca with a fascinating family story...
The Last Whale

The Last Whale – your chance to win a copy of new book

Kidzone - quick links Fun Facts Our Goals Curious kids Kids blogs Fantastic fundraisers Gallery...

Teflon-coated whales and dolphins?

How whales and dolphins can hold their breaths for long periods of time – the sperm whale holds the record with 90 minutes – has long been a mystery to scientists but finally, the answer has been found … they’ve got teflon proteins in their blood!

Ok, so not teflon per se, but these recent findings, reported in Science, describe how in marine mammals, a particular protein called myoglobin which binds oxygen in blood, has evolved over time to have ‘non-stick’ properties. Normally, at high concentrations, myoglobin stick together and stop working but over time, whales and dolphins have changed the make up of these proteins enabling them to pack huge amounts of oxygen into their muscles without them all clogging up. The trick? Their proteins are positively charged and therefore as with magnets, they repel each other. 

Not content with solving just the one mystery, this piece of the puzzle will be hugely beneficial elsewhere. It will allow scientists to go on to estimate dive times of the modern day whale and dolphin ancestors thereby learning a lot more about evolutionary biology and importantly, it may even aid medical research into some diseases like Alzheimer’s which is caused by proteins clumping together and stopping working. 

So, the next time you pick up your non-stick frying pan, give a thought to the whales and dolphins of this world – they got there first, in the name of survival and not just fried eggs!

About Nicola Hodgins

Policy Manager at WDC