A team of British researchers and whale experts from Mexico’s Cetacean Ecological Laboratory theorize that increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation due to depletion of Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer is causing blisters and other types of skin damage to whales.
While some experts say the ozone “hole” is healing thanks to a worldwide limit on the production of chemicals that destroy ozone, others say it’s unclear how the ozone layer has responded.
Either way, a thinner ozone layer has left paler-skinned species, like blue whales, highly susceptible to the higher UV radiation over recent decades.
Some say further research is needed to see if changes in the amount of cloud cover across the study area could be a factor.
Additional studies are also planned to determine if whales can develop the ability to enhance their natural sun protection processes by, for instance, getting suntans.