Humpback Whale in Core Sound

Written by Keith_Rittmaster. Posted in Uncategorized

During the week of March 7th, 2011, a 27′ male humpback whale was seen swimming then later, stranded in Core Sound.  It had 8 propeller cuts, some long and deep, forward of the dorsal fin.  By Friday it had been aground for at least 2 days, weakened with entanglement scars, scavenger damage (shark and birds), curved spine, abraded skin, anemic, leaning in a hole it had wallowed out in the sand, and still alive – a sad sight.  A team that included staff and volunteers from NC State Univ. Center for Marine and Sciences Technology, UNC-Wilmington, NC Division of Marine Fisheries, NC Maritime Museum, Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Tow Boat/US euthanized the whale and performed a necropsy.  In addition to the team’s collection of measurements and tissue samples, Keith brought back the left pectoral flipper for research, education, and display.  This investigation will enhance our knowledge of large whale anatomy and physiology.  The flipper measures 9′ long and 25″ at its widest point, and weighs ~260 pounds.  The short term goal is to get radiology, CT scan, and MRI images of this fin.  Long term, he plans to prepare the bones and eventually create a display with the images and bones.  Despite the sad nature of this event, each live marine mammal stranding offers a rare opportunity for scientists and veterinarians to learn more about these fascinating creatures. The information gained can be used to minimize suffering in live stranded cetaceans and contribute to marine mammal conservation.
Here’s a bit of media coverage about the whale:

Look at the entry for April 15, 2011 to see what we are doing with one of the flippers of this whale.

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Comments (1)

  • Patricio


    I love learning about the Humpback whale.


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