Update: Dead whale identified

Cayman Islands Department of Environment officials said Tuesday afternoon that the dead whale that washed ashore in Savannah was probably a pygmy sperm whale, a marine mammal that is unusual to find at sea.

dead whale update

DoE officer Mark Orr attempts to drag the whale ashore Tuesday. Photo: Brent Fuller

Most of what is known about pygmy sperm whales has been gleaned from specimens that have washed ashore. Further tests were under way to confirm the whale’s species and approximate age.

The rare animal, about 3.4 metres (11 feet – the size a pygmy sperm whale would reach at maturity), was found on a beach adjacent to private property owned by Eldon and Patricia Kirkconnell. Mrs. Kirkconnell first spotted the whale Tuesday morning.

‘This is the area where I go to take my swim every afternoon,’ Mrs. Kirkconnell said. ‘I was just looking out on the beach and saw the whale. I was shocked.’

Department of Environment officials were unsure whether they would be able to move the large marine mammal onto a truck from the beach area, which is down a steep slope from a private driveway off Shamrock Road in Spotts Bay.

DoE research officer Janice Blumenthal said she would take samples from the whale to help identify its particular species and age. It was believed the whale had somehow become separated from its pod and may have been pulled over coral reefs in rough seas on Monday.

Read more in the Caymanian Compass on Thursday….