Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Alaska NOAA Team Examines Dead Endangered Sperm Whale

"It was a rare find: a dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in Alaska’s famed Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska. Sperm whales, which are endangered, usually hang out in deeper, offshore waters. This one—a 48-foot long male—was found beached on the east side of Lynn Canal, north of Berners Bay near Juneau.

Johanna Vollenweider/NOAA.A team of marine mammal experts perform a necropsy on a male sperm whale.

This is the first time NOAA Fisheries has had a report of a dead sperm whale in the Inside Passage. Its discovery provided a unique opportunity for marine mammal experts from NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Sitka Stranding Network, and University of Alaska to perform a necropsy (or animal autopsy).

“This is an exceptional opportunity for a marine mammal biologist,” said Kate Savage, NOAA Fisheries lead veterinarian on the necropsy. “There are a lot of unknowns around sperm whale biology and life history in Alaskan waters, so we could learn a lot from this stranding.”


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