Subject: Beached whales off South African coast

Lindsay J Porter (
Sun, 5 Apr 1998 20:54:54 +0800 (HKT)

>On a recent hike on the eastern coast of South Africa(near Port Alfred) we
>found two stranded whales.  Although dead, they appeared to be relatively
>fresh.  We are trying to find out what type of whale they would be.  
>Approximate size:  6 - 8m
>Colour: light grey
>Other distinguishing features:  toothed; distinct hump before the tail;
>rounded forehead

Dear Rose and Paul,
My first thought after seeing your description was of an Indo-pacific
hump-backed dolphin (particularly with reference to the pronounced hump
beind the dorsal fin).  6-8m, however, is twice too long for this species SO
I refered to the FAO global guide to whales and dolphins.  The species you
describe could be 

Pseudorca crassidens (False killer whale) - although light grey would be unusual
Globicephala macrorhynchus (short-finned pilot whale) - again should be darker
These two being the only ones which fall in that size class.  

I suggest you compile a more detailed description, did you take any
pictures?, and send it to 

Dr V.G. Cockcroft
Port Elizabeth Museum & University of Port Elizabeth
PO Box 13147, Humewood. 6013
South Africa

who will be able to answer your question with more certainty than I!  I have
already forwarded your description (above) to him.

Sorry I can't be of more help
with all best wishes 

Lindsay J Porter

Dolphin Research Group
The Swire Institute of Marine Science
The University of Hong Kong
Cape d'Aguilar
Hong Kong