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Preliminary Results On Stranded Killer Whale

3rd February 2015
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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.

Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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