Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Redcar Whale - lessons to be learnt

Almost three months after the stranding of the Sperm Whale at Pegwell Bay Ramsgate another male Sperm Whale , a 44ft long male Sperm Whale whale has died three hours after becoming stranded on a beach on Redcar Beach Teesside.

The BBC reported ;

"RSPCA officers were involved in the rescue attempt, along with those from the Coastguard and Cleveland Fire Brigade, while RSPCA vets assessed the mammal's condition."

"A rescue bid started which involved trying to keep the adult sperm whale wet until high tide but it died."

"A post mortem will be carried out on the whale and then it will be up to the local council to dispose of it."

I really hope that something positive will happen with the Whale remains unlike the Pegwell Bay Whale which was cut up and disposed in landfill. Like the Pegwell Bay Whale there will be a autopsy and the Institute of Zoology sponsored by DEFRA will carry out a investigation taking away organs, the Jaw and other samples. Then it will be up to the local authority to dispose of the remains. In Thanet the the Sperm Whale stranded there as mentioned earlier was disposed of in landfill. This prevented any local samples or remains being retained localy for museums etc.,, however in some countries a stranding like this is buried to allow nature to take its course and the bones are then dug up years later as a project, these projects can be googled.
As the Pegwell Bay Whale was cut up this left Whale fat on the strandline which after three months is still present at Pegwell Bay and is decaying and smelly. Also in the days after the disposal balls of spermaceti oil also appeared on the strandline, when cold it is solid and white and when it is warm it will become liquid. I do have a small amount in a container collected from Pegwell Bay.
If the Whale is cut up there will be splinters because once the Jaw is removed the head will be removed and behind the jaw there is a mass of bone that will splinter if cut with a chainsaw. If the same technique is used as in Pegwell Bay there will be pieces of bone to be found on the site days or even weeks after the clearance. The small splinters are okay to clean and the best method is to boil the pieces for about ten minutes to remove some of the fat within in bone, then leave it outside for a few days and then store in dry conditions on a piece of kitchen roll to absorb any oil that may secrete. The large pieces that are porous will be a challenge as they will smell and will drip oil for weeks. I tried many ideas to work out a way to preserve the large pieces as exhibits only to come up with the idea that the large pieces are best left for the natural process. So I have bought a plastic dustbin filled it up with compost and buried the large pieces in it, inspecting the bone every month.
I collected 51 bone fragments and samples from Pegwell Bay, of which I had to inform the Receiver of Wrecks, notify DEFRA and then apply to English Nature the regulatory authority to possess them. Except for the two large pieces in the compost bin I have donated 41 pieces to a local natural history museum at the Monkton nature reserve pending a decision by English Nature.

1 comment:

Tony Beachcomber said...

Today, I received confirmation from English Nature that I have been granted a licence to possess 51 bone fragments for Science and Education purposes.