15 dead pilot whales wash up in Newfoundland, Canada

About fifteen dead pilot dolphins stranded in December on the Port-au-Port peninsula in Newfoundland are the subject of an investigation by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

The ministry was notified on December 9 and a team of fishery officers was deployed to Trois-Cailloux to take samples of the flesh and teeth of huge black cetaceans.

In the photographs I have, they appear to be healthy , says DFO marine mammal expert Jack Lawson . They weren’t hungry, they weren’t thin. They do not show signs of entanglement and there is no evidence of injuries from a collision with a ship.

It appears the animals were looking for food and became disoriented , he says, while noting that the investigation is continuing and the ministry has not come up with a definitive explanation.

Jack Lawson explains that pilot dolphins are very social cetaceans who like to swim in groups. These herds can number hundreds of animals.

He says pilot dolphins – which can weigh 2300 kg and measure 7 m in length – are increasingly less common in coastal Newfoundland waters.

The expert believes that an event like the one observed at Trois-Cailloux is relatively rare in Newfoundland, but he recalls that a similar incident occurred on the south coast of the island in the 1970s. At the time, about sixty cetaceans had died.

Courtesy of ici.radio-canada.ca



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