Another Sperm whale for Cork!

9th Mar 2005 On 7th March IWDG received a call from Michelle Walsh, reporting the carcass of a whale washed up at Belgooly Creek, Oysterhaven, near Kinsale, Co. Cork . We visited the site on 8th March and can confirm that the whale is another adult male, sperm whale.

Interestingly this is the 2nd adult male sperm whale to dead-strand within seven weeks in the West Cork area. It is also the site of the well documented live stranding of a juvenile fin whale on 15th July 2003, on the opposite bank.

Despite the fact that it is in a very poor condition, it was still possible to confirm its species identification. IWDG encourage members of the public to report any sightings of dead stranded cetaceans……yes, even those in truly in awful condition!

Its length of >30ft-40ft rules out harbour porpoise or dolphin sp. The presence of a caudal notch on the tail-fluke eliminates one of the beaked whale. Absence of throat pleats and dorsal fin rules out any baleen whale sp., and the carcass is too large to be a minke whale. Also despite the fact that the whale was for the most part “melting” on to the shore, it still had what appeared to be a large “block shaped” head, and this feature is diagnostic of sperm whale. The presence of a broad pectoral fin also leans heavily towards sperm whale.

Skin samples have been taken and should help confirm its species beyond any doubt.

Pádraig Whooley

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