MARINE MAMMALS ST Introduction MARINE MAMMALS

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  • MARINE MAMMALS STRANDINGS IN JAMAICA

    Introduction

    Fig. 1: Melon

    found at Donal

    With an estimated 28 species of marine mammals found in Jamaican waters it is imperative that

    a marine mammal stranding network be established.

    stranded, two live and one dead.

    Kogia breviceps, while a Melon-headed Whale,

    Donald Quarrie High School on Jun

    Melon-headed Whale, the Pygmy Sperm Whale live

    known, not only about marine mammals in general, but also about stranding procedures.

    MARINE MAMMALS STRANDINGS IN JAMAICA

    by

    Christine OSullivan

    Jamaica Environment Trust

    Fig. 1: Melon-Headed Whale, Peponocephala electra,

    Donald Quarrie High School found on June 2, 2005

    With an estimated 28 species of marine mammals found in Jamaican waters it is imperative that

    a marine mammal stranding network be established. In the past three years three whales have

    stranded, two live and one dead. Both live strandings occurred with Pygmy Sperm Whales,

    headed Whale, Peponocephala electra, was found dead behind

    Donald Quarrie High School on June 2, 2005 (Fig. 1). While nothing could be done for the

    headed Whale, the Pygmy Sperm Whale live-strandings highlighted just how little is

    known, not only about marine mammals in general, but also about stranding procedures.

    With an estimated 28 species of marine mammals found in Jamaican waters it is imperative that

    In the past three years three whales have

    Both live strandings occurred with Pygmy Sperm Whales,

    , was found dead behind

    e 2, 2005 (Fig. 1). While nothing could be done for the

    strandings highlighted just how little is

    known, not only about marine mammals in general, but also about stranding procedures.

  • Pygmy Sperm Whales are similar in appearance to Dwarf Sperm Whales,

    them difficult to distinguish. Distinguishing factors include the number of teeth, length, and

    dorsal fin length and position.

    cephalopods, crustaceans and fish.

    Pygmys are thought to reside seaward of the continental shelf while Dwarf Sperm Whales may

    be more coastal. One feature they share is the use of a dark reddish

    sac within the lower intestine that is expelled in the water when they are startled.

    that it is used either to deter predators or conceal the whales escape (Reeves,

    The only similarity that they appear to s

    the spermaceti organ. It is only found in the head of these three whales and contains

    spermaceti, a liquid wax whose purpose is unknown (Reeves,

    The strandings of the Pygmy Sperm Whales

    While the circumstances surrounding both strandings differed they were both marred by lack of

    expertise and indecision. These strandings highlighted the need for an established marine

    mammal stranding network with the ability to quickly and competently respond to stranding

    events.

    Case studies

    Fig. 2: Pygmy Sperm Whale,

    The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) responded to t

    in Portland in July 2004. Upon arrival it was noted that the animal had been recovered by residents and

    placed in a container with salt water (Fig. 2).

    similar in appearance to Dwarf Sperm Whales, Kogia simus

    Distinguishing factors include the number of teeth, length, and

    dorsal fin length and position. Stomach contents indicate that they feed primarily on

    pods, crustaceans and fish. They can be found in tropical and temperate latitudes and

    Pygmys are thought to reside seaward of the continental shelf while Dwarf Sperm Whales may

    One feature they share is the use of a dark reddish-brown l

    sac within the lower intestine that is expelled in the water when they are startled.

    that it is used either to deter predators or conceal the whales escape (Reeves,

    The only similarity that they appear to share with Sperm Whales, Physeter macrocephalus

    It is only found in the head of these three whales and contains

    spermaceti, a liquid wax whose purpose is unknown (Reeves, et al. 2002).

    The strandings of the Pygmy Sperm Whales occurred in July 2004 and on March 31, 2006.

    While the circumstances surrounding both strandings differed they were both marred by lack of

    These strandings highlighted the need for an established marine

    with the ability to quickly and competently respond to stranding

    Fig. 2: Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, neonate that stranded in July 200

    The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) responded to the first stranding, which occurred

    Upon arrival it was noted that the animal had been recovered by residents and

    placed in a container with salt water (Fig. 2). The water was routinely changed while they waited for

    Kogia simus, making

    Distinguishing factors include the number of teeth, length, and

    Stomach contents indicate that they feed primarily on

    They can be found in tropical and temperate latitudes and

    Pygmys are thought to reside seaward of the continental shelf while Dwarf Sperm Whales may

    brown liquid found in a

    sac within the lower intestine that is expelled in the water when they are startled. It is presumed

    that it is used either to deter predators or conceal the whales escape (Reeves, et al., 2002).

    Physeter macrocephalus, is

    It is only found in the head of these three whales and contains

    occurred in July 2004 and on March 31, 2006.

    While the circumstances surrounding both strandings differed they were both marred by lack of

    These strandings highlighted the need for an established marine

    with the ability to quickly and competently respond to stranding

    that stranded in July 2004

    he first stranding, which occurred

    Upon arrival it was noted that the animal had been recovered by residents and

    The water was routinely changed while they waited for

  • NEPA to arrive. The animal appeared to be a neonate (

    of papillae on the tongue as well as vestigial hairs.

    was extremely small and could be lifted and held by one perso

    taken. According to residents it had swum to shore, attempted to go back out to sea and then

    returned. At that point it was recovered by the residents, who noted that a pod (

    dolphins) had been seen off shore, before eventually leaving the area.

    eventually joined by a team from Dolphin Cove, who moved the animal to a shallower, calmer beach to

    determine the next course of action.

    unsuccessful. The decision was finally taken to take the animal to Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios and care for

    it there. The animal died early the next morning.

    Fig 3: Pygmy Sperm Whale before refloating attempt

    On March 31, 2006 NEPA received a call that a whale had stranded in Morant Bay, St. Thomas and a

    joint team from NEPA and the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) responded to the call. Upon arrival it was

    determined that the individual was a male Pygmy Sperm Whale (Fig. 3). It did not appear to be

    malnourished or dehydrated but had several cuts and scratches along its bo

    stomach (Fig. 4). All the cuts were superficial and would not have caused the stranding event.

    The animal appeared to be a neonate (newborn), which was indicated by the presence

    of papillae on the tongue as well as vestigial hairs. The animal had several cuts and scrapes on its body,

    was extremely small and could be lifted and held by one person. However, no measurements were

    According to residents it had swum to shore, attempted to go back out to sea and then

    At that point it was recovered by the residents, who noted that a pod (group of whales or

    shore, before eventually leaving the area. NEPA staff members were

    eventually joined by a team from Dolphin Cove, who moved the animal to a shallower, calmer beach to

    determine the next course of action. While there, an attempt was made to refloat the a

    unsuccessful. The decision was finally taken to take the animal to Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios and care for

    The animal died early the next morning.

    Fig 3: Pygmy Sperm Whale before refloating attempt

    On March 31, 2006 NEPA received a call that a whale had stranded in Morant Bay, St. Thomas and a

    NEPA and the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) responded to the call. Upon arrival it was

    determined that the individual was a male Pygmy Sperm Whale (Fig. 3). It did not appear to be

    malnourished or dehydrated but had several cuts and scratches along its body, particularly on its

    All the cuts were superficial and would not have caused the stranding event.

    ), which was indicated by the presence

    The animal had several cuts and scrapes on its body,

    However, no measurements were

    According to residents it had swum to shore, attempted to go back out to sea and then

    group of whales or

    NEPA staff members were

    eventually joined by a team from Dolphin Cove, who moved the animal to a shallower, calmer beach to

    While there, an attempt was made to refloat the animal but it was

    unsuccessful. The decision was finally taken to take the animal to Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios and care for

    On March 31, 2006 NEPA received a call that a whale had stranded in Morant Bay, St. Thomas and a

    NEPA and the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) responded to the call. Upon arrival it was

    determined that the individual was a male Pygmy Sperm Whale (Fig. 3). It did not appear to be

    dy, particularly on its

    All the cuts were superficial and would not have caused the stranding event. They