pygmy-sperm-whale

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A 9.5 ft Pygmy Sperm Whale (Kogia breviceps). Upon necropsy, found to be pregnant. The mother had head trauma consistent with fishermen beating it as it struggled in the net. Realising it was not a shark, it was thrown back dead into the ocean. What a waste. Education is the key. It was not a targeted species and is protected.

Source: D’ Bone Collector Museum Facebook

Juvenile pygmy sperm whale washed ashore today Amagansett, Long Island. They only get to about 9 feet and are the smallest of whales. They’re usually in the tropics and in deeper seas. Here’s a video primer. Apparently very rare to see a beached juvenile whale, and even rarer this for species so far north. The commentary:

Incredible day in Amagansett.

A 50-foot fin whale washed up dead on the ocean beach; it had probably been dead a week.

Then, in a truly bizarre coincidence, a once-in-a-lifetime rarity and not normally an animal even found in this region, a pygmy sperm whale, a juvenile, washed up alive 2 miles down the beach. It was an astonishing thing to see. Sadly, it was euthanized later in the day.

Cause of death unknown…Pygmy sperm whale had some skin lesions suggesting bacterial infection. Did not seem thin. Ingestion of plastic always a possibility. They’ll be examined more closely via necropsy in coming days.

Via Carl Safina.

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2 PYGMY SPERM WHALES KILLED BY ILLEGAL DYNAMITE FISHIN IN PHILLIPPINES

On March 21, two pygmy sperm whales were killed off the coast of Siarfao Island, Phillippines. (read here my post)

Two new photos were released, showing a pygmy sperm whale calf, reportedly killed by dynamite fishing. The injuries are allegedly from dynamite fishing.

Dynamite fishing, which involves the use of explosives to stun and instantly kill fish, is often used by fishermen looking for an easier and faster way of catching fish.

The explosives are usually improvised. They are commonly plastic bottles filled with explosive nitrate and diesel.It’s possible that bigger capitalists, perhaps even foreign ones, are funding the fishermen.

  • via rappler
  • Photo by Damien Gagnieux

NOAA’s DNA database helps identify orca kill

Thanks to the NOAA’s collection of more than 140,000 tissue samples taken from marine mammals and sea turtles, we can now add another species to the list of killer whales’ potential prey: pygmy sperm whales.

During an NOAA Fisheries marine mammal survey last year, researchers witnessed a pod of orca make a kill roughly 200 miles off the coast of Central California. While the researchers did not arrive at the scene quickly enough to identify the prey by sight, they were able to recover the prey’s heart and lungs.

The tissue samples were taken back to the Marine Mammal Genetics Group at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California. There, DNA samples were extracted from the tissues and their genetic sequences compared to the computerized database of other DNA samples. This allowed the team to identify the orca kill as a pygmy sperm whale - the first confirmed case of killer whales preying on this particular species.

The NOAA’s research sample collection has provided invaluable information in the past. It was this collection that allowed researchers to discern genetically distinct ecotypes of killer whales and genetically distinct populations within those ecotypes - the endangered Southern Residents, for example. Another project helped assess genetic differences in different populations of bowhead whales; another helps identify the remains of marine organisms that have become entangled in fishing nets, which helps researchers track and protect endangered species and monitor their status. A current project hopes to identify a new species of beaked whale based on the remains of stranded individuals found in Alaska and Japan.

These projects show the necessity of collecting a wide range of tissue samples from individual animals and the importance of maintaining a DNA database for research purposes.


Based on materials originally written for the Marine Mammal and Turtle Division of the NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Image: Killer whales near the scene of the pygmy sperm whale kill. (Credit: Paula Olson.)

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                                       Pygmy Sperm Whale

                                        (Kogia breviceps)

is one of the three species in the sperm whale family (Dwarf sperm whale,Sperm whale) they are rarely sighted at sea and not much information is known about them. they are about 4ft in length at birth and can grow to 11 feet at maturity.