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Preliminary Results On Stranded Killer Whale

3rd February 2015
Preliminary Results On Stranded Killer Whale

#MarineWildlife - Preliminary results from the post-mortem on the female killer whale that stranded in Waterford last week show no obvious cause of death.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the five-metre-long female orca was discovered near Tramore last Friday (30 January) amid an unusually high number of cetacean strandings in the first month of this year.

While it was suggested that the killer whale's worn teeth might point to malnutrition, Dr Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) explains that such teeth are typical of 'type 1' orcas in the North Atlantic.

The 'type 1' ecotype feed mostly on fish, and are smaller than their 'type 2' marine mammal-eating counterparts.

According to Dr Berrow, samples of skin have been taken for analysis, and tissue from the blubber, liver, kidney and muscles will be studied in greater detail for potential contaminants that could lead to various conditions such as infertility.

"As biologists we can only explore the life of this whale and not determine the cause of death," he says. 

"Obviously if there was something obvious or a severe infection, etc, we would recognise this but often an animal may have a number of 'conditions' which are not fatal, and determining cause of death is based on the most likely fatal condition.

"Unfortunately Ireland does not have a post-mortem system for marine mammals, unlike most European countries, so the factors leading to mortality of stranded animals is not known," he adds.

The IWDG has more on the story HERE.

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