PORT OF SPAIN – An eight-foot long melon-headed whale was found dead Tuesday at Damien’s Bay, Maracas and local marine mammal researchers are now suspicious that “something is happening” with that species, the most common in local standings.
The carcass of the whale was cordoned off by Maracas Police after they had alerted the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, to prevent tampering.
The Network’s Dr Wade Seukeran told the Express the mammal was a juvenile and appeared to be have been dead for about 24 hours.
He said the whale had also been dragged down the beach to where it was found and wounds inflicted from that action made it difficult to assess the cause of death on the spot.
The whale’s body also bore “depressions” and scars, likely making it a victim, at least previously, of collisions with boats.
The carcass has been removed to the Veterinary School at Mt Hope, where an autopsy is to be performed.
Seukeran said, however, that Tuesday’s whale was the fourth of its kind to have appeared on local shores in recent years and that autopsies on previous carcasses had shown a brain-based parasite.
While the cause of death of the most recent melon-head is yet to be determined, Seukeran said the question should be asked as to whether something is occurring with that particular species.
It was suspected that parasites had contributed to disorientation, which could also be caused sonar disruptions from seismic testing carried out by oil companies.
The whales usually move in pods up to 100 and prefer deep water, Seukeran said, adding that the mammal found yesterday off shallow waters had probably fallen sick and become separated from its pod some time ago.