^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ J. Michael Williamson Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <http://whale.wheelock.edu> Associate Professor-Science Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215 voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256 fax: 617.734.8666, or 617.566.7369 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Tue, 1 Apr 97 03:40:00 GMT From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Wrong turning' may have doomed Wrong turning' may have doomed Moby By Joe Quinn, PA News A post-mortem examination is to be carried out tomorrow on Moby, the 50ft sperm whale who died today stranded on mudflats in Scotland's Firth of Forth. Experts will also decide how to dispose of his giant body, their task made harder by the difficult access to soft mud on which he came to grief. Efforts were tonight under way to tether his carcass, using a ship's mooring rope to secure his 40 tonne bulk. The aim was to keep the carcass secure so it could be examined tomorrow, and to prevent it floating off on a high tide and becoming a danger to shipping, said Dr Keith Todd, curator of the nearby Deep-Sea World aquarium. Tomorrow's talks on disposal would involve coastguards and council and environmental health officials, said Dr Todd. He was with Moby when the animal died and afterwards measured the body - about 50ft long, and 30ft in circumference. Dr Todd and fellow experts believe the animal died from stranding after becoming confused over direction, rather than suffering from disease or beaching itself deliberately in a suicide attempt. His repeated, and ultimately doomed, attempts to swim upstream west up the Forth may be because his direction-finding was confused by a wrong turning which took him into the North Sea in the first place. The Deep-Sea World experts believe he and other whales on the annual migration route from the Arctic to the Azores turned left too soon off the north of Scotland - down into the North Sea rather the next left into the Atlantic. And the repeated attempts to swim west up the Forth may have indicated he was trying to get further westwards. A colleague, aquarium spokesman Alex Kilgour, said: "He suffocated very quickly which was nice because he wasn't in pain for too long." "It happened extremely quickly. We were expecting it to take six to 12 hours, which we were dreading." Hopes for the safety of Moby had all but vanished earlier today when hewas found stranded on the mudflats. Rescuers said his plight was hopeless and appealed for the public to stay away to let him die in peace - on a previous stranding on Sunday children had thrown stones at him, they said. By late morning the whale was three-quarters exposed out of the water, on a mud flat in shallow waters near Airth, central Scotland, on the south bank of the Forth. With a receding tide, nothing could be done to alleviate his plight. Normally a beached whale would die rapidly, from the sheer weight imposed on the animal's internal organs once the mammal was out of the buoyancy provided by water. Experts feared that his plight could be prolonged by the soft mud, but this now appears not to have happened. "We are all very, very sad about what has happened, epecially after thinking at one stage that this could have a happy ending," said Mr Kilgour. Moby first appeared in the Forth 12 days ago, and fears that he could come to grief in the upstream shallows prompted attempts to guide him to safety using the noise of boats to nudge him eastwards. These succeeded at the third attempt, last Sunday, when Moby ventured clear of the Forth road and rail bridges - the whale's previous refusal to swim under these being thought to be caused by fright at traffic noise. He became briefly stranded after that, but then freed himself - only to be seen in the area again on Tuesday night. He was then seen again on Sunday, grounded for some time at Bo'ness in central Scotland, before being located today at Airth.