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whale washes up in long branch

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Whale washes up on rain-swept beach in Long Branch

 

Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/04/03

By MICHAEL CLANCY

STAFF WRITER

LONG BRANCH -- A 2-ton, 17-foot-9-inch pilot whale washed up, lifeless, on the beach near Atlantic Avenue yesterday morning.

 

Technicians from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center performed a field autopsy on the whale, which appears to have died at sea before its body washed ashore. After the autopsy, the city Department of Public Works used a back-loader and a dump truck to remove the whale as night fell.

 

Samples taken from the whale's blubber, skin and vital organs will be sent to federal investigators, who will try to determine the cause of death. Its teeth will be used to pinpoint its age.

 

"There is so much information that we need to gain, not only to get the life history of the animal but to see if there might something in the ocean that affects humans too that we need to know about," said Bob Schoelkopf, director the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a nonprofit rescue team based in Brigantine.

 

Howard Kuker spotted the black-and-white mottled whale while looking out his condominium window yesterday and attempted to save it.

 

"I got one of those compound buckets, and I was just splashing water all over him," Kuker said. "I even got my hand in there and tried to see if his blow hole was clogged. Everybody was saying that he was dead, but no one was actually an authority or a vet. I said, 'I know he looks dead, but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt,' so I gave it a shot."

 

On Saturday, the police had received reports about a whale swimming in the same waters not far from where this whale came ashore. Because of witnesses' varying accounts, it wasn't clear yesterday whether the whale spotted on Saturday was the same one found dead yesterday.

 

Schoelkopf believed it was.

 

"It was called in to us (Saturday) as swimming on the surface, but I think it was the same whale and it was already dead, but because of the action in the surf, it looked like it was swimming," he said.

 

Now begins a "detective game" to determine the cause of death, Schoelkopf said. Normally, the entire carcass would be taken to a laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, he said. But because the remains weren't "really fresh" and because proper transport couldn't be arranged, a field autopsy was conducted, and the carcass will be deposited in a dump, he said.

 

The samples will be examined microscopically for disease and viruses by scientists in Washington, D.C., at the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Schoelkopf said.

 

The field autopsy also could provide some clues.

 

"The technicians not only try to get the animal's size and age but look for something in its stomach that it ate that was contaminated, or look for net marks or evidence that it was caught in commercial fishing lines," Schoelkopf said.

 

Pilot whales usually travel in pods or "family units" and can be found near the Bay of Fundy near Nova Scotia, Canada, but seasonally, they swim as far south as the Caribbean, said Schoelkopf.

 

It also is possible the whale died of natural causes and just floated ashore instead of dropping to the ocean floor, Schoelkopf said.

 

Michael Clancy: (732) 643-4076 or mclancy@app.com

 

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thegreek

 

[This message has been edited by thegreek (edited 03-03-2003).]

 

[This message has been edited by thegreek (edited 03-03-2003).]

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Whale washes up on rain-swept beach in Long Branch

 

Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/04/03

By MICHAEL CLANCY

STAFF WRITER

 

 

3/04/03 From the future cwm31.gifcwm24.gif

wink.gif

 

There must be some bait around if there are pilot whales out there. Unless it was a rogue.

 

 

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If it was sick for a while, I could have lagged behind the pod. Good thing it wasn't in the fall or later in the spring, when some critters might have been interested in following it.

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