SeaDoc’s Dr. Joe Gaydos gets back to his veterinary roots when he’s asked to do a checkup on a very special working dog named Eba. Eba is a mutt abandoned on the street who has become a conservation hero by using her remarkable sense of smell to help save critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales.

Eba’s superpower allows her “mom” and handler (Deb Giles, one of the world’s top orca researchers) to collect huge amounts of killer whale health data without having to disturb the animals. No darting and no tranquilizing—this is a totally non-invasive technique—but if Eba is successful, Giles and other scientists are able to determine if a killer whale is suffering effects from pollution, harmful algal blooms, stress or even determine whether a female in the pod is pregnant.

Eba’s normal focus is on fish-eating killer whales. During today’s mission, our team from SeaDoc, Wild Orca, and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance encounters a different ecotype of killer whales: mammal-eaters! Compared to Southern Residents, these orcas have a distinct culture, behavior and smell. Can Eba’s highly evolved nose still lead us to samples that will help conserve the Salish Sea? It’s going to be ruff, but we’re betting on this gorgeous gremlin-eared girl to come through for science!