Posted by: The ocean update | November 9, 2015

Scientists investigate whale corpse found in Hawaii (USA)

Courtesy of Justin Cross

Courtesy of Justin Cross

November 9th, 2015 (Brigette Namata). OAHU — There aren’t many of them left in the world, and little is known about the species, but the death of a “false killer whale” found on Hawai’i Island on Saturday has launched an investigation that will help scientists find out more about the species.

“I really still wasn’t sure who to contact, so I got a hold of ocean defender, and they gave me the contact for NOAA,” explained Justin Cross, who came across a false killer whale washed ashore at South Point on the Big Island.

NOAA Stranding Coordinator David Schofield says it was the right thing to do since not much is known about the species.

“We’ve only been able to get our hands on three of this animals in the last 17 years,” said Schofield.

The false killer whale species, or “pseudorca crassidens,” is critically endangered. NOAA says there are only about 200 of them left.

The 13-foot female animal, weighing over 1,300 pounds, was flown to Oahu.

A team from Hawaii Pacific University, Cascadia Research, University of Hawaii and NOAA are examining the mammal at the Marine Corps Base.

“Of course we’re sad to hear about the death of this animal, but knowing there are so few left of the false killer whale population, we do see this an opportunity to try and learn about what is in fact causing the death of these whales in order to better protect them,” said Hawaii Pacific University Biology Professor Kristi West, Ph.D.

The team did not find any sign of fish hooks or plastics inside the animal’s stomach, but did find large game fish, like tuna or marlin, and evidence of a big squid.

They will continue to investigate.

“This particular false killer whale has not been sighted over these years with a calf, and we kind of wondered why that may be?” said West.

The professor says this particular female false killer whale has been spotted eight times around Big Island and Oahu since 2004.

“Our oceans are unhealthy, and we’re learning that through these marine mammal investigations,” said Schofield.

To report marine animals in distress, particularly false killer whales, contact NOAA at 888-256-9840.

Provided by Justin Cross

Provided by Justin Cross

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