Beached Whales Provide Opportunity for Researchers

Written by on January 24, 2013 in Marine Life, Whales & Dolphins
Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris). This whale is in the same family as Arnoux's beaked whales, but Arnoux's are much larger.

Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris). This whale is in the same family as Arnoux’s beaked whales, but Arnoux’s are much larger. Photo credit: NOAA.

Researchers in New Zealand are turning the unfortunate stranding and death of Arnoux’s beaked whales (Berardius arnuxii) into a great opportunity. The whales beached themselves at Sandy Point in Invercargill, New Zealand on Monday.

“A stranded animal, putting aside the sad aspect of its death, is a bit of a gift from the sea to help us understand the species a bit more,” said Professor Ewan Fordyce from the University of Otago. “Mostly these animals live and die at sea and we don’t get to look at them closely.”

Fordyce notes that these animals, first named in New Zealand in 1851, are rarely seen near the coast.

“Scientists don’t understand the species’ habits too much except they like deep water, feed on squid and may be able to dive to depths of more than one kilometre,” he explained.

Fordyce and a team of researchers will do an autopsy, collect samples and check the internal organs for any clear indications of why it died.

“The whales’ deaths are a tragedy and the scientific community is duty bound to try and learn as much as possible from an occurrence like this.”

Typical size of Arnoux's beaked whale compared to a human.

Typical size of Arnoux’s beaked whale compared to a human. Photo credit: Chris huh.

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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  1. gerard says:

    Every coastal town or port should have a whale rescue
    protocol.

  2. Emily says:

    Agreed, Gerard–I think that would help a lot.

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