Posted by: The ocean update | July 7, 2015

Rare and mysterious whale found in Denmark

The whale's remains were brought to the Natural History Museum on Monday. Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Scanpix

The whale’s remains were brought to the Natural History Museum on Monday. Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Scanpix

July 7th, 2015. For the first time in over a century, a humpback whale has washed up on Danish shores. Making the discovery even more interesting is the fact that its cranium had “fallen out”.

Not only are bottlenose dolphins now being found frolicking in the Bay of Aarhus, but now humpback whales seem to have arrived off Danish shores as well.

A five-metre long humpback washed up on a beach near Thy last week, creating a bit of a mystery because the corpse lacked a cranium and the whale’s tail had been wrapped in rope. 

Researchers from the Natural History Museum of Denmark spent Monday cutting the corpse into manageable-sized chunks for further examination in hopes of clearing up the strange find.

“This is huge. Humpback whales aren’t normally seen in Denmark. There are only a few times per year that we need to cut a whale up and last summer it was a couple of sperm whales,” the museum’s Morten Tange Olsen told BT.

According to Olsen, a humpback whale hasn’t washed up in Denmark in 110 years.

“They only come into Danish waters if they get lost. They swim between 5,000 and 10,000 kilometres per year and some of them swim all the way from northern Norway to the Caribbean,” Olsen told BT.

It took Olsen and his colleagues three hours to cut up the whale, using around 20 kitchen knives and several blubber hooks. He said that the lack of a cranium was indeed strange and that it had “most likely fallen out” after the whale had died.

The rope around the tail was a sign that the whale had not died of natural causes, museum spokesperson Abdi Hedayat told broadcaster DR on Tuesday.

“It got entangled in some sort of net and drowned,” he said.

Researchers will spend the next few weeks examining the whale’s remains and the whale’s skeleton, presumably with an artificial cranium, will eventually be put on display at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen.

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