Blue Whale Stranding, Maldives20th Dec 2002 A blue whale carcass washed up on the south side of Male' island on
the evening of Monday 9 December. It was rotten and rather smelly,
so was cut up and removed for burial on another island the following
The head was missing, but some throat pleats were visible.
The remains measured 11m, and I estimated the whole animal to
have been at least 15m long. It was not fully mature, based on
incomplete fusion of vertebral epiphyses. So it was probably a blue
whale (the only other baleen whales so far recorded from Maldives
are Bryde's and humpback, both of which grow to a maximum of just
over 15m). I collected tissue samples for DNA analysis to check ID
and contribute towards on-going population studies. These are being
sent to the US for processing.
There appears to be a separate population of blue whales in the
northern Indian Ocean, which migrates seasonally from east to west
(and back), taking advantage of regional plankton blooms. In the
Maldives, all sightings and strandings to date have been in the period
November to April.
Dr. Charles Anderson
The Whale and Dolphin Company
P.O. Box 2074
Republic of Maldives
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