Sunday, 19 August 2018

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

For only the third time that has been recorded, a Cuvier's Beaked Whale has washed up on Islay's shores. A very dead specimen turned up a few days ago on the Big Strand. The previous ones were in 2000 and 2008. And exactly the same as in 2008, other specimens have turned up at the same time in the Outer Hebrides. This is an uncommon species in British waters, very rarely seen alive, though strandings occur more frequently, if not annually. This is a deepwater species which prefers warm waters, so is seen more regularly in the Mediterranean and around the Canaries. It has been suggested that the species is particularly adversely affected by the sonar used by submarines and other naval vessels, perhaps to the extent of causing the strandings.
I've taken specimens of the skin, blubber and muscle which have been sent away for analysis by the Scottish Strandings team in Inverness. They will be checked for pollutants as well as having the DNA analysed to see if related whales have also been stranded.

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