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Second Whale Found Mysteriously Beached In The Bahamas (Bahama Journal)
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Posted by:Mar 1st 2006, 10:55:09 am
Fig Tree News TeamMarch 01, 2006
Second Whale Found

Residents have expressed concern over mainly American scientists, especially a team from the AUTEC base, taking a leading role in investigations.

The mangled carcass of a 25-foot whale was found in waters off Walker's Cay yesterday, the second dead marine mammal found in the Family Islands this week.

In Andros, the mammoth task of disposing of a 20,000 ton Sperm whale found on a Behring Point beach at the weekend started today, following a series of examinations and samples taken by scientists, and amid growing concern from residents that the real reason behind the whale's beaching may never be known.

Police on Grand Cay told The Bahama Journal yesterday that the whale was discovered by boaters travelling between Grand Cay and Walker's Cay around 3:30 p.m. It is understood that the whale's body remains in waters in the Little Bahama Bank.

The whale appeared to have large shark bites all over its body, similar to the large bites found on the body of the Sperm whale discovered in Andros, according to police reports.

It was not clear last night if there was any connection between the two deaths.

Teams of scientists from Atlantis' Marine Mammal facility and the US Naval base, AUTEC [Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre] on Andros, returned to Behring Point, Andros yesterday to continue their investigations into what caused the death of the massive animal.

More samples were taken from the whale on Tuesday, including pieces of the heart, lungs, intestines and eardrum, but local residents and environmentalists are hoping that it is not too late for tests, given the poor condition of the body.

Some of the tests will take an estimated two weeks, while others could take as long as one month, Margot Blackwell, the director of the College of The Bahamas' Environmental Research Centre in Andros, told The Bahama Journal.

But a more immediate concern, said Mrs. Blackwell, is the removal of the massive body and the preservation of the skeleton for future purposes.

"We are hoping to lighten the carcass enough to bury it and preserve the carcass, enabling it to be used for research and educational purposes and to put in the museum that is planned for [the island]," she said.

"There's at least four to eight inches of blubber surrounding the body and as you can imagine, the animal has been dead for about three days and taking out the intestines is quite a task."

In the meantime, residents have expressed concern over mainly American scientists, especially a team from the AUTEC base, taking a leading role in investigations.

According to one resident who asked not to be named, a "riot" almost broke out on the island on Monday night when it was suggested that the whale's jawbone would be taken off the island.

"People want to know what's going on. The same people who are taking the samples could be causing the problem and we don't even know," said the resident.

The whale's body, which had been attacked by sharks and was in a bad state of decomposition, was reportedly found on Sunday morning, about a mile and a half from the AUTEC base.

In March 2000, 15 whales and a dolphin beached themselves on Abaco and nearby islands. Six whales and the dolphin died.

An investigation found that the whales had suffered severe ear trauma that damaged their navigational systems, and the cause was a test of a Navy sonar system in the waters off The Bahamas.

The beaching of the Sperm whale was the fifth to have occurred in the area within the last year.

Mrs. Blackwell said the residents' concerns illustrated the need for a local emergency facility, not only to allay any reservations but to ensure that samples are taken and tests are carried out before it is too late.

"A contingency plan needs to be put in place and AUTEC should also have a proper facility here, but we also need our own," she said.

By: Erica Wells, The Bahama Journal

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