Samples of fin whale’s skin and blubber to be analysed

Skin and blubber samples from the 30-tonne whale that was stranded in West Cork have been sent to Dublin for analysis.

The samples will be tested at the Irish Cetacean Tissue Bank in the Natural History Museum Dublin, and at the Marine Institute.

A PhD student, studying the feeding ecology of fin whales, will also examine the whale’s remains.

Initially, it was thought that the whale, which died on Thursday, would be incinerated, but his sheer bulk made it impossible for him to be lifted from a boat to a lorry.

Therefore, it was decided to dispose of his remains at sea.

The 18m fin whale will remain moored at Baltimore harbour while the build-up of gases, a side effect of decomposition, from the whale’s tissues, internal organs and tongue are emitted.

A postmortem will not be carried out as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group does not have funding for systematic necropsies on Irish cetaceans. Three years ago, a 60-tonne fin whale was stranded at Courtmacsherry in West Cork. A postmortem was carried out on his carcass but this was funded by National Geographic magazine.

This latest whale to beach off West Cork was initially stuck against a pier wall in the inner harbour after it came into Baltimore on a low tide last Tuesday.

It moved 300m-400m offshore before coming back into the inner port. It is believed the whale, who was most likely unwell and therefore unable to navigate properly, then wounded itself on sharp rocks close to the pier.


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