Blue Whale Stranding, Maldives

20th 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

morning.

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

Male'

Republic of Maldives

anderson@dhivehinet.net.mv