A Long(man's) Story

2nd Jan 2003 There was a posting on 28 December about Longman's Beaked Whale,

Indopacetus pacificus. It refers to a BBC report of an individual

stranded in Japan in July as "the most complete specimen ever seen"

and also notes "other fragmentary remains found in South Africa, the

Maldives and Kenya".

Just for the record, the Maldives "remains" were a complete pregnant

female. I saved the complete skeleton (including teeth), which is now

in the collection of the Maldivian Marine Research Centre.

The South African "remains" were two complete juvenile males. These

were initially misidentified as Southern Bottlenose Whales, but DNA

analysis revealed that they were Longman's Beaked Whales.

In external appearance Longman's Beaked Whale does look like the

Southern Bottlenose Whale. However, there are subtle differences in

melon colouration, which are clearly revealed in photos of the fresh

stranded South African specimens. It is now realized that "Tropical

Bottlenose Whales" seen in the tropical Indo-Pacific (including

sightings in the Maldives) are Longman's Beaked Whales.

A scientific paper describing these findings is in press with the

journal Marine Mammal Science, and should be published in July

2003.

Dr. R. Charles Anderson

The Whale and Dolphin Company

P.O. Box 2074

Male'

Republic of Maldives