As you know, I work for Biosphere Expeditions. Right now I am in Namibia, just off a week’s holiday in between groups 6 and 7. In the spring I lead the Azores expeditions where we study whaled, dolphins, and loggerhead turtles (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/azores)
So when I heard about a sperm whale stranding close to where I was on the Atlantic coast, of course I had to go and see for myself. How sad to see one of these magnificent animals beached (and dead) on land where they do not belong. Local authorities do not know what happened to the young whale, and speculation I’ve heard ranges from post-calving issues to a run in with an outboard motor, which our Azores scientist Lisa Steiner tells me would leave large, deep gashes on the animal. Lisa and I have been skyping all day–she trained me well and I took a zillion pictures of the whale trying to capture a good picture of its tail–the only way to positively ID these animals. She once told me that nobody thinks to take pics of dead whales’ tails, and the researchers always like to know the fates of every animal they can know.
So I hiked up my pants and got my feet wet, and shot 170 pictures. [Update while I write: Lisa has informed me that this whale’s tail does not match any in her database (we did not expect it to since it’s generally known that they don’t swim across the equator and I am now in the southern hemisphere, but man, it would have changed scientific thinking if it did!!!)] Lisa is going to post it, and my pictures, on MARMAM and see if anyone else wroldwide can match it.
Whatever reason for its demise, it really was a sad sight.