February 1, 2010

DNA To Protect Marine Life

In an effort to save endangered marine animals from poachers, scientists in Taiwan plan to use DNA from whales and dolphins to convict the illegal hunters.

Poachers often try to hide their tracks by cutting off the heads, tails and fins of the animals.

Hsia Jung-sheng, an official from the Council of Agriculture, is in a process to outsmart them by using molecular technology that can pinpoint the species of the animals.

"What they don't know is that the government has set up a comprehensive databank on DNA from whales and dolphins," she told AFP.

Coastguards in Taiwan discovered a haul of dolphin meat last week weighing more than 1 ton in Suao.

All species of whales and dolphins are protected by Taiwan's conservation law, and any person found violating the law faces a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to 1.5 million Taiwan dollars (47,000 US dollars).