Rare short-finned pilot whale stranding

Daily Dispatch article ….

Beached whale baffles experts

By MICHELLE SOLOMON on June 8, 2013 in News

Scientists await test results for cause of death

The stranding of a whale on the Wild Coast has left marine biologists puzzled over a string of unusual whale strandings in recent years.

STRANDED: Scientists do tests on a whale that beached on the Wild Coast recently

East London Museum scientist Kevin Cole alerted the Saturday Dispatch to the stranding of a female short finned pilot whale near Wavecrest resort last weekend. He said the whale measured 3.85 metres.

Cole said the stranding was unusual since these whales were mostly only found on the west coast.

Cole said he and fellow marine expert Greg Hofmeyer of Port Elizabeth’s Bay World had done a necropsy to determine the cause of death. He said the animal appeared not to have died as a result of injury.
“Its physical appearance was in perfect nick. Its internal organs were also in good condition,” Cole said.
He added that there were some anomalies, however.
“The spleen was slightly discoloured, which may have indicated a problem,” Cole said. He added that a growth was found on the whale’s uterus, which had been sent for testing to determine whether it was malignant or not.
“So those are two question marks that may indicate why the animal died,” Cole said.
He added that the whale’s stomach was removed intact, for transport to a lab so that it could be examined for any unusual findings.

Cole explained that the skeleton of the whale was collected after the necropsy, while the other body parts were put back into the sea. He said historically there were only three strandings of pilot whales in this region.

Hofmeyer is curator of the largest marine mammal collection in the southern hemisphere but was unavailable for comment yesterday. Cole asked readers to snap pictures of any stranded marine mammals they come across.

Readers can send images to: greg@bayworld.co.za.

The Bay World emergency stranding line is 071 724 2122. — michelles@dispatch.co.za

About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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