False killer whale washes up on south shore

| December 1, 2010 | 0 Comments

Samples of a female false killer whale found beached on the southeast shore of Molokai Saturday are now being analyzed to determine a cause of death.

Dave Schofield, marine mammal response coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, said a call came in to NOAA on Saturday regarding a beached whale. Apparently, passersby called the marine stranding hotline to report the whale. The NOAA hotline to report marine strandings is 888-256-9840.

A Pseudorca was found stranded on the beach near Kawela on Molokai's south shore.

Also known as a pseudo orca (Pseudorca crassidens), the whale was seen floating in shallow waters in the Kawela area. It may have been alive, but by the time a team of responders from the Molokai Marine Mammal Response Program showed up it was already dead.

Besides the local volunteers, representatives of NOAA and Hawaii Pacific University also appeared on the scene. Schofield would not comment on the size of the whale or any other physical characteristics. He also declined to say how the whale’s body was removed.

“There are issues of sensitivity regarding how carcasses are handled,” said Schofield. “There’s not too much information until we piece everything together.”

Over the next month or so, said Schofield, the tissue samples taken from the whale will be carefully analyzed. At that time NOAA will be prepared to release a statement as to the cause of death.

According to Wikipedia, The false killer whale the third largest member of the oceanic dolphin family (Delphinidae). It lives in temperate and tropical waters throughout the world. As its name implies, the whale shares characteristics such as appearance with the more widely known Orca (killer whale). Like the orca, the false killer whale attacks and kills other cetaceans. However, the two dolphin species are not closely related.

The false killer whale has not been extensively studied in the wild; much of the data about it has been derived by examining stranded animals.

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