New information following necropsy of Sperm Whale stranded in Mobile Bay

Mobile County

DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) — We’re learning a little more about the sperm whale that was stranded in Mobile Bay and eventually euthanized. Officials with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab released the initial results of a necropsy. They said they still don’t know exactly why the whale stranded itself. Samples sent for further analysis may offer answers at a later date. The release said the whale was a 33 and a half foot long young male.

The whale was initially spotted around Weeks Bay back on November 19th. Last Sunday the whale seen for hours close to shore in Montrose. Despite the poor prognosis, hundreds came to the shore in Baldwin County last Sunday to marvel at this majestic creature.

The following is a news release from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab:

Thursday 26 to Friday 27 Nov, DISL Biologists and collaborators from Gulf World Marine Institute, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies completed the necropsy of a sperm whale that first stranded last week in Mobile Bay.

The whale was a 33.5 feet long young male. The cause of stranding was not immediately determinable on gross necropsy. Samples have been sent for additional analyses such as bacterial, viral, or fungal infectIons, histology, and toxicology, among others.

More information will be shared as results are available.

Answers to some additional questions we have seen online.

  1. How long can the analysis take?
    It usually takes a few weeks to receive results and sometimes longer depending on the tests.
  2. Where do the samples go?
    Some analyses are analyzed at DISL and in collaboration with local analytical facilities. Other samples are sent to expert analytical facilities around the country.
  3. What will the samples tell researchers?
    The samples will provide the same types of information your doctor receives when they test you for illness. For example, blood samples can tell us about organ function, inflammatory and infectious processes, nutritional health, and more. Histology can also tell us about disease processes, and we test for a variety of common bacterial and viral infections and possible toxin or contaminant exposure among other diagnostics.
  4. What was in the stomach?
    There was little content in the stomach but some remains of squid (beaks) and crustacean shell pieces (possibly crab shells). These prey are known in the sperm whale diet.
  5. What will happen with the whale’s body?
    Following necropsy, the whale carcass was buried at a NOAA-approved, secure location.

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