Bryde's whale stranding - Monday 18th February, Old Kerr, Bahama Palm Shores, Abaco
The stranded Bryde's whale.
The whale was seen swimming in the bay the afternoon before. This is unusual behaviour for a pelagic species. The whale was found stranded alive in the surf zone
at 7:30am on the 18th.
The BMMRO stranding response team arrived at the scene and identified the animal to be a juvenile Bryde's whale, Balaenoptera edeni
(Order Cetacea, Suborder Mysticeti, Family Balaenopteridae). The initial evaluation of the whale's condition was as follows:
The whale was severely emaciated and non-responsive. The breath rate was one breath every 20 seconds. As the tide had fallen, the whale was lying on its'
right side with the right pectoral fin beneath its body. It had become partially buried in the sand, including the right side of its head up to the eye and the lower jaw.
There was evidence of a line (approx 1.5" diameter) that had been wrapped around the whale's head. Although the line had caused a groove dorsally and ventrally (across the throat grooves)
it did not cut through the skin in these areas. However the line had caused deep lacerations vertically across both eyes. The left eyeball was positioned below the lower eyelid most of
the time but occasionally the whale would raise it and scanned back and forth before dropping it again. The entanglement injury looked relatively fresh as the tissue surrounding
the eye was pink and red. The eyeball was not visible in the right eye because it was buried in the sand. There was a fresh cookie cutter shark bite and numerous cookie cutter scars.
There were 3 large oval shaped rings of lighter pigmentation on the left side below the dorsal fin which may have been skin lesions. There was a fresh 6" long minor laceration posterior
to the anus which may have occurred during stranding.
Attempts to euthanise the animal failed, and it died overnight that night.
A special thank you to Mr. Michael Braynen, Blair Mase, Anita Knowles, Olivia Patterson, Community Animal Hospital, Dr. Hannah, Dr. Alan Bater, David Knowles,
and Sergeant Rahming for help with the stranding response. More than 40 residents from Bahama Palm Shores, Casaurina, Cherokee and Sandy Point, and students
from Agape School assisted with the rescue attempts. Tom Asselin, Edward Adderley, Junior and Winifred Albury, Jack Nesbitt and their workers helped with the
necropsy and specimen collection after the whale died. And finally thanks to Curtis Sands and Oscar Pinder for trying to assist with burying the carcass.
Although Bryde's whales have a tropical and subtropical distribution they have never been recorded in the Bahamas previously.
They are known to occur off the SE US coast and the Gulf of Mexico, although strandings are rare. For more information on Bryde's whales,
The Bahamas Marine Mammal Protection Act (2005) prohibits the collection of marine mammals or marine mammal products unless permitted
to do so by the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources. http://laws.bahamas.gov.bs/annuals/No12of2005style.html