The whale stranded on the beach by Spanish Bay reef was probably hit by a boat.
That was the finding of St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, which performed a necropsy on the rare Gervais’ Beaked Whale after it was discovered on the beach on Tuesday, 5 February.
Associate Professor Dr. Carolyn McKinnie said, ‘The cause of death was due to the fact that the lower jaw was fractured in more than 10 places, with evidence of blunt trauma around the head and neck on his right side. There was also massive bleeding associated with this injury.’
Ms McKinnie was able to positively confirm, based on the number of teeth in the lower jaw, that it was definitely a male Gervais’ Beaked Whale.
‘My theory is that he was feeding, came up to breathe and got hit on the side of his head by a boat. All else was normal…he appeared to be in excellent body condition and in apparent good health. He was 14-feet, seven inches long and weighed between 2,000 and 4,000 pounds. We found squid in his oesophagus and his stomach was also full of squid.’
Department of Environment Research Officer Janice Blumenthal said ‘the stranding has now been reported to the Caribbean Stranding Network in Puerto Rico and the Department is preserving the skull and skeleton for research purposes.’
Miss Blumenthal also acknowledged the efforts of the various groups that assisted.
‘CUC was able to pull the whale up the beach; they lifted it onto a RitzCarlton flatbed. It was then transported to the vet school in Lower Valley. Mike’s Ice provided ice to preserve the body until the necropsy and the Med Lab assisted in analyzing samples.’
On the weekend following the stranding, the Caymanian Compass received a call from a member of the public who claimed they saw another Gervais’ Beaked Whale. According to the report, the whale was located about three miles off North West Point and was alive and well.