Info: Stranded whale dies in North C (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Mon, 9 Feb 1996 18:13:18

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From: Michael Williamson <pita@whale.simmons.edu>
Subject: Info: Stranded whale dies in North C (fwd)
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 9 Feb 96 03:41:00 UTC 0000
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Stranded whale dies in North C
 
Stranded whale dies in North Carolina
 
   HOBUCKEN, N.C., Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A juvenile fin whale that beached
itself early this week in North Carolina's Pamlico Sound died Thursday.
   A post mortem was planned to determine what killed the mammal, which
had been nicknamed "Freddy" by Coast Guard crews that unsuccessfully
attempted a rescue.
   Bill A. McClellan of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, who
doubles as a coordinator for regional beachings, speculated the whale's
death likely was related to a parasitic infection. Parasites in whales
are often passed along in the mother's milk, or through the normal food
chain, McClellan said.
   McClellan estimated that Freddy, a 45-foot, 30-ton speciman appeared
to be 4-to 5-years-old and probably had been weaned only in the past
year.
   The fin whale is a sub-order of the baleen whale and part of the same
group as the blue whale, McClellan said. A mature adult whale can grow
to be 70-feet in length, he added.
   The whale was discovered off Hobucken, N.C., on Pamlico Sound west
across from Cape Hatteras, N.C. on the Outer Banks, Monday by two duck
hunters who spotted it in the shallow waters of the sound. Although its
mouth was underwater, the animal's back remained above the surface.
   Attempts to move the whale into deeper water were futile, Coast Guard
Petty Officer Brandon Brewer said.
   Rescuers discounted the possibility of hoisting the whale with a
heavy-duty helicopter and flying it to deep ocean waters, for fear the
attempt would prove fatal, Brewer said.
   Carlton Burke, director of the Western North Carolina Nature Center
in Asheville, said the reason whales beach themselves is a mystery, but
injuries and parasites are often found to be major factors.
   Even if Freddy had lived and towed to deep waters, authorities said
the whale may very well have beached itself again.
   Officials said they hope the necropsy (post mortem) would provide
information about what was happening inside the whale's body that would
help explain its actions.