Posted by: The ocean update | December 7, 2015

Tooth possibly belonging to adult male sperm whale found in Singapore

Photo : Kelvin K P Lim via Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Photo : Kelvin K P Lim via Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

December 7th, 2015. SINGAPORE — A 15.5cm tooth belonging to a sperm whale was found in a small lagoon located within the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park on Nov 25, making it the second find related to this elusive mammal to date.

The specimen was found during one of the guided walks at the park conducted by National Parks Board (NParks) and its volunteers.

The size of the specimen suggested that it was from an animal much larger than the 10.6m long female sperm whale that washed up near Jurong Island on July 10, and most likely belonged to an adult male, wrote Ms Toh Chay Hoon and Mr Marcus Chua from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum in an online biodiversity record.

“Male sperm whales have large teeth on their lower jaws that are thought to be for battling other males. Scars on the bodies of sperm whales commonly attributed to battles with giant squids are often tooth marks that match these teeth rather than from squid beaks or suckers. These teeth are probably of limited use for feeding as most of their prey is swallowed whole,” said the museum on its official Facebook page.

Due to signs of weathering on the tooth’s surface, it is unknown whether the specimen came to be in the lagoon naturally or was transported with material used to reclaim the island between 1974 and 1975.

NParks will also be working closely with the museum to share the exhibit at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park Public Gallery on St John’s Island, the statutory board told TODAY.

“We are also grateful to our expert partners for helping us identify the find as a sperm whale tooth… This find highlights the important role that the Marine Park plays in documenting and communicating the significance of biodiversity discoveries in Singapore,” added NParks.

The dead female sperm whale that washed up earlier this year was the first sperm whale recorded in Singapore, and the third recorded in South-east Asia. Sperm whales were earlier recorded near Sarawak in 1995 and Phang Nga in western Thailand in 2012.

Its skeleton, once properly processed, will be displayed at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

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