A dying female dwarf sperm whale got stranded in shallow water near the shore on Friday May 27, just meters away from the Reef Hotel in Telchac; specialists tried to save it by keeping it at sea, but the cetacean only survived a few more hours and finally passed away.
At 6 am an employee of the State Ministry of Urban Development and Environment, who guards the turtle camp on the beach near the Reef Hotel, spotted the sperm whale near the coast and reported the situation to his superiors.
Minutes after the report, marine biologist Diana Madeleine Antochiw Alonzo arrived to Telchac, she is a specialist in marine mammals, mainly whales, and had dedicated part of her career to the research of strandings.
The biologist found the sperm whale alive and, with help from members of the local PROFEPA station, kept the cetacean at sea, trying to save it.
The dwarf sperm whale, two meters long and 250 kilograms of weight, died in the arms of Diana Antochiw, so it was taken out of the water to be examined by Dr. Raul Díaz Gamboa, UADY’s Research and Conservation of Marine Mammals Program Coordinator.
Due to the reduced beach area in front of the Reef Hotel, the sperm whale was moved on a truck to Progreso by Municipal Ecology personnel.
At 1 pm, under the supervision of Raul Díaz Gamboa, students of UADY’s Veterinary Medicine Faculty practiced the necropsy in order to determine the cause of death.
Before the whale was cut open, students of marine biology checked the animal for signs of trauma or indications that the sperm whale got caught in fishing nets, but found no evidence of such damage.
Diaz Gamboa said that sperm whales live in the Gulf of Mexico and live up to 80 years.
He said that they could not determine the age of the sperm whale, nor the cause of death, so studies in laboratory of the samples taken during the autopsy will be carried out in the following days.
Students sectioned the animal, which had a lot of fat and little meat; they took off the fins and the head. With indications of Diaz Gamboa, they inspected the mammary glands and other organs such as the stomach, which was empty. Finally, the animal was burried on the beach, west of Progreso.
It was reported that sperm whales feed on squid, and during the summer they usually approach the beach following these molluscs, their favourite food.
This was the third whale found dead on Yucatán beaches so far this year.
On January 20, an adult pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps), of about three years old, was found rotting on the beaches of Sisal; and on February 28, fishermen found a young male common rorqual or finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus) dead near the shores of Progreso and it was towed back to the beach, where it was sectioned and buried according to the PROFEPA protocols.
And the mortality of marine animals continues, as a young dolphin was found dead on the coast of Chicxulub, and a large tortoise was also found dead on the beach of Chicxulub, both cases were reported to PROFEPA on Tuesday May 31, and the animals were buried onsite.
According to ballenapedia.com, whales are classified as ballen (toothless), serrated (toothed and carnivourous). By species they are classified as: blue, fin, humpback, dwarf sperm whale (the smallest of the whales), and beluga.
The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales (Moby Dick was inspired by one), while the blue whale is the largest of the ballen and the largest animal on Earth.
According to ar.whales.org, pygmy sperm whale (known only by stranding) and the dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima), are quite similar, so they were not recognized as separate species until 1966
Source: Diario de Yucatán
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