NZ pilot whale strandings xmas 2009

Steve O'Shea

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#1
It was a shocking xmas period for us here, and for the whales, with two separate pilot whale strandings in 2 days, right over the 24-26 December period. 105 animals died in one event, 22 of ~ 60 in another. These are just a few of the shots of a stranding several hours from here. The whales appeared to be in good condition, with the excpetion of one calf (which had what appeared to be lesions and scalds over the body).

The larger of the two strandings is something we'll be able to report on in more detail shortly; I haven't the photos available at present to post.

Most of the teeth on the whales from the lesser stranding (22 dead) were very worn; pretty horrible really.
 

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DWhatley

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#4
Steve, what would cause the teeth to be worn away like that? I assume they have a limited set like we do and the adult set is expected to last a lifetime (and only make that assumption based upon the fact that you mentioned the teeth).
 

Steve O'Shea

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#5
I've see a lot worse D; not sure why - perhaps a diet requiring a lot of grinding, as opposed to squid eating (and these things by and large eat squid).

I wasn't allowed to conduct an autopsy on these animals; local Maori would not allow it. It's a pity, but it is an opinion that I must respect (they were buried and we'll really be no wiser as to the cause of the stranding event). What I do know about the other stranding is that the stomach's on the greatest majority of animals were extremely ulcerated (we've published on this before), despite looking 'healthy' on the outside. I don't know what the condition of the teeth was like on the other stranding event yet (pics to follow post 15 Jan). There does appear to be something dietary involved.
 

tonmo

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#9
Good luck, SOS!
 

tonmo

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DWhatley

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While there were some undersea earthquakes around the time of the strandings, he appears to be trying to make the seaquake event fit the stranding...
If his theories are correct, it would seem that herding them back to deep water would not save them but the link Tony posted suggests that once they are back out in the deep water they seem to survive. :confused:
 

Steve O'Shea

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#14
We've just returned from yet another pilot whale mass stranding in New Zealand, this one involving 28 animals (the 4th mass stranding event in NZ since December 26 2009).

A very expensive exercise it proved to be, with flights, considerable excess baggage, and helicopters to and fro, but a most important stranding event in that this was the first time we have EVER found entire squid in the stomachs of any animal over the past 7 years! Their stomachs were absolutely full!! Because of this, this stranding event was unique, and the reasons for it likely different from those of any other that we have attended.

I have a ton of video; I'm not sure how I'll get it compressed yet to put online, but I will (when time allows, and I've had an opportunity to edit it).
 

tonmo

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#15
Tragic news on the strandings but that is great news on the stomach contents! Will PM you as well re: video, if there's anything I can do.
 

Steve O'Shea

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#18
Yet another mass stranding last week; I've posted a new thread where you can see the nes item pertaining to same
 

DWhatley

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#19
I am afraid we are going to lose our Sperm whales soon. They feed in the Gulf.
 

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