#MarineWildlife - A team from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) was on site at Streedagh Strand in Sligo yesterday (Thursday 4 April) to investigate the third sperm whale stranding in a matter of days along Ireland’s West Coast.
As reported yesterday on Afloat.ie, the discovery of a third such whale carcass made for an “increasingly unusual stranding pattern”.
While sperm whales are relatively abundant in Ireland’s deep ocean waters, they are rarely found above 300 metres — and male specimens are far more common than the female whale found in Sligo.
The IWDG confirmed that samples were taken from the 10.4m carcass, which showed “no obvious signs of ship collision [or] entanglement, nor was the whale emaciated”.
Examination of stomach contents found no plastic debris and few food remains.
“So as is so often the case with strandings, we know more about what didn’t kill the whale than what did kill it,” the IWDG stated — adding that it is liaising with Scottish colleges after a decomposed sperm whale was found on Uist in the Outer Hebrides, due north of Ireland, in recent days.
The group also notes that multiple warships and submarines are involved in Nato’s annual Joint Warrior exercise ongoing west of the Hebrides.
Sonar activity from military vessels has been suggested as a cause of whale strandings throughout Europe in recent years, including a major event across Scottish and Irish waters last year.
“However, these whales have been dead for one to two weeks so this can’t explain these strandings, unless some active equipment was tested offshore prior to the start of this exercise,” the IWDG says.