|Dead Humpback whale found near Hungry Bay|
|Thursday, 25 January 2007 00:00|
Dead Humpback whale found near Hungry Bay
By Robyn Skinner , Royal Gazette, 25 Jan 07
A 33-foot-long Humpback whale was found dead near Hungry Bay on the South Shore yesterday.
Local resident, Barry Bridges, saw the back of the impressive creature arching out of the water as he was taking a friend�s boat for a run.
He said: �I thought it was a nice live whale and I was waiting for the tail to come out but it didn�t.
"I called my wife, who then called the Aquarium and I came in to pick them up."
Jennifer Gray, the Biodiversity Action Plan Coordinator for Conservation Services, and Patrick Talbot, Head Aquarist, were the first to respond to the report.
Ms Gray said: "The whale was laying on its side with one fin exposed and floating because of the gas building up inside the animal. There were a few scrapes on the exposed side, but no signs to indicate how the whale died."
Mr. Talbot added: "The whale was in good condition and the last whales we've seen had shark bites.
"The Humpback whale, however, is a well-studied animal and therefore we won't be towing the whale in to study it."
Humpback whales regularly migrate past Bermuda in April as they leave their breeding grounds in the Caribbean for their feeding grounds in waters between Maine and Iceland.
It is not unusual, however, for the whales to be in our waters this time of year according to Ms Gray.
She added: �Fishermen who are out on the water this time of year regularly see whales, but we cannot assume that they�re on their migratory route.
�We could do a complete necropsy, but it will take days and it will still be hard to tell what killed it, unless it is a very clear sign such as a blocked stomach passage.
�If it were a rare species we might do one, but its one of the best studied whale species in the world so it is unlikely that we would add to the database.�
�Humpback strandings, however, are rare. I believe the last one was six years ago when Bill Mitchell freed one off of Warwick Long Bay. It was caught up in rope and they were able to dive and cut it free so it could swim away.�
The sub-adult, female whale, discovered yesterday, did not appear to be tangled in any ropes nor did it have any marks, which would indicate it had been hit or attacked.
The Fisheries Warden ship, the was called when attempts to drag the whale with Mr. Bridge�s boat failed to move the animal.
A government spokesman for Conservation Services said: �We usually try to take it to Cooper�s Island so we can do an autopsy, but high winds are expected tonight so we want to get it offshore.�
Fisheries ensured the whale was off the Island ledge before untying it and letting the tide take it away from the island.