Dwarf Sperm whale (Kogia sima) sighting and Subsequent Stranding
On April 1st, 2011 we received a report of a lone dolphin swimming in an unusual manner near a dock in Morgan creek between Beaufort and Morehead city. The caller was concerned that it might be in trouble. We arrived to an unusual sight. From a distance it has a dolphin -like appearance, but it’s logging” at the surface with infrequent dives was behavior more like that of a pygmy or dwarf sperm whale. We went back to our Gallants channel docks and returned in our trusty boat Spyhop to get a better look with Keith, Nan, Vicky and Brooks on board. It was indeed a dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima). This pelagic (open ocean) species occasionally strands on our NC beaches but it is very unusual to see a live one swimming in the estuary or even close to shore. A local resident who was fishing nearby told us it had been there for several days.
Stranding network staff and volunteers from NC Division of Marine fisheries, the NC Maritime Museum, and NC State University CMAST monitored the whale’s position and behavior throughout the day and following morning. On Saturday April 2nd, the whale was seen at 4:30 am but then was not seen again until it was sighted dead in adjacent marshes around noon. It was a 7′ (218 cm) long male and weighed 322 pounds (146 kg). We froze the Kogia sima carcass for future necropsy and study.
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