Click on this blog title (above) for my Picasa
photo album of the whale
(best viewed as a slideshow, but not necessary).
Ok folks, I'm back with my own photos and some more information. Just after I posted my previous blog, I heard that the whale was NOT buried yet, and that a necropsy was to be done, so William and I both hurried down to the beach together.
I took as many photos as I could from awkward angles, and not being allowed to get as close as I would have liked...some are pretty good, but some leave a lot to be desired....however, I have posted all seventy-four of them here, so that my scientist friends (and whomever else wants to) can easily take a good look whenever they want to. Someone might find a clue in one of them that others have missed, including, in my opinion, the sky and the ocean. People around here say that they haven't experienced such strange weather in over twenty years.
When we arrived at the location, I immediately started snapping pictures. The partial necropsy was already underway and they were talking of burying the whale in the sand. I listened intently and learned a few things. Tony Amos, the local semi-retired Physical Oceanographer for the University of Texas Marine Institute in Port Aransas was conducting the examination. I spoke with him briefly, and he said that this whale is a young female, but he was still unsure exactly which kind. She had no skin left on her, and she was extremely thin. There was a thought that she may have ingested plastic garbage (BAD humans!!!), but nothing unusual was found in one of the stomachs. He needed to see the main stomach (I didn't know they had more than one) to see what it contains, but it was inaccessible and time was running out. She was to be buried quickly in order to avoid a serious health hazard (which has me wondering what happens to all that stuff that will seep into the ground over time?). She has no teeth, everything gets filtered (plankton?, krill? I'm not sure) through her balleens (which were missing).She's 48 feet long and it's estimated that she weighs about 12 TONS. Gee, I wonder what she would weigh as an adult?!
Anyway, the sky was looking rather ominous, the ocean was in a froth and the tide was very high, so we headed back to the barn, where I saw that Boris Branwhite my Autralian scientist friend had gotten back to me. Thank you Boris! Boris' current profile is available on - http://www.whalecall.org/index.php?page=bios.htm --rabid multiskilled foe of developers -- finder of new species, founder of Whale Call Inc. (http://www.whalecall.org) Boris viewed the pics that my friend Marjie Koenig had taken earlier and said that it looks like it could very well be a Baleen whale and that it looks to be underfed. He also sent me a link to his own research photos, in hopes that they might help identify her. I haven't checked them yet, but, I will tomorrow. But why was she underfed? And what was she doing so far from her home? I wonder what happened. The little round holes that you see on her in the photos were made by sharks...Tony said he thinks by small "Teakettle" or "Teapot" sharks 3 to 4 feet long. I'm not sure if I heard him correctly, so now I'm really curious, I'll have to take some time tomorrow and look that up. Boris said that in Australia they call them "Cookie Cutter" sharks. And, what happened to her skin?! Boris said that is very unusual. Tony said that he couldn't even tell what color she might have been, which would have been a big help in species identification. Hmmm...more research for me! I love learning new things!
UPDATE: Feb. 10, 2010 - Just a quick personal thought, but not exactly sure yet, I'll let you all know, when I've learned more. Based on my Google search, I think that it's a Right Whale (vey rare here)...based on the size of it's head, length, and the color of what maybe appears to be tiny bits of dark skin...you can see it in a couple of the photos. What do YOU think? Appreciate your comments, thanks!