Beaked whale live-strands at Pollshone Pt., Co. Wexford.24th Aug 2004 On the afternoon of August 20th Emer Rogan received reports of a live-stranded large dolphin near Courtown, Co. Wexford. The "dolphin" which at over 13ft length was refloated around 10 times, and as one would expect after so many refloat attempts, it died around 19:00 on Fri. evening.
On Sat. 21st Aug. IWDG received a call from a member of the public about what looked like a large dolphin on a beach in the same area. On questioning the caller, it transpired that it was the same animal, but that it was not a bottlenose dolphin, as earlier reported. One of the observations was that the dorsal fin was well to the anterior and not mid-way along the back, as you would expect on all dolphin species.
At this point local IWDG co-ordinator Kevin McCormick (alias Mac) was alerted to the probability that this might be a beaked whale. On Sun. 22nd with the improvement in the weather, Mac confirmed our suspicions, when he reported with supporting images, that it was a 14ft beaked whale without any obvious teeth or teeth sockets, the absence of any caudal notch on the tail fluke, and small pectoral fins.
As the animal was alive in the last 26 hours, its colouring was still in good condition, and does not seem to have the brown or chocolate complexion of a Cuvier's beaked whale and the beak looks too long to be a True's beaked whale, so the best guess at present is that this specimen is a Sowerby's beaked whale, which would be fascinating as it would be the 2nd record of this species in Co. Wexford in as little as four months. Identifying this whale, with confidence, to species level will however require further examination of skull characteristics.
The carcass was removed from Courtown to Rosslare with the assistance of the local coastguard, and Mac is currently in the process of disposing the carcass, with a view to retrieving the skeleton at a later date. The IWDG would like to thank all of the above and Eamon Doran, NPWS Conservation ranger, who visited the site on Friday for an initial assessment.
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