Rare whale washes ashore

  • Jun. 7, 2015 5:00 p.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverA rare Cuvier’s beaked whale has been found beached on the southern tip of Haida Gwaii. Teams from the department of fisheries and oceans along with Parks Canada traveled to the site to perform a necropsy on the deceased whale. The whale was found on the north beach at SGang Gwaay, in Gwaii Haanas National Park, by the construction crew building the new Watchmen cabin. The carcass was in good condition and showed no immediate cause of death. Gwaii Haanas had it transported to a facility that specializes in cleaning the bones of whales and dolphins. It was removed from the site by disassembling the whale and removing tissue from around the bones. Pieces of the whale were then frozen and transported to a facility on Saltspring Island. The remains of the whale will be composited in horse manure for a year to remove the rest of the flesh and oils from the bones. “This is very exciting for us, as it is a rare whale,” said Gwaii Haanas representative Drue KendrickFor the specialists working on the case, this was their first time dealing with a beaked whale. It was described as more fleshy than fatty like other whales and very oily. Once the bones are treated for more than a year, the reassembled skeleton will be displayed for public viewing at the Gwaii Hannas office. This is the second beaked whale to wash ashore on the coast of B.C. recently. The first was found near Tofino. Beaked whales are rarely seen and scientists have very limited knowledge on this particular species. The Cuvier’s beaked whale is known for its ability to dive to deep ocean depths to hunt for fish and squid. Sightings of the mammals in B.C. are extremely rare, with only a handful ever recorded. Cuvier’s beaked whales are hard to spot in the wild, as they spend most of their time far from shore and don’t make a large disturbance in the water when they surface.They hold the record for the longest, deepest dives ever recorded of a marine mammal, swimming to depths of nearly three kilometres and staying underwater for more than two hours. The DFO along with parks Canada are working on finding the cause of death of the whale on Haida Gwaii.

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