Stranding Response to Support Conservation of Marine Mammals in The Bahamas

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On Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organisation (BMMRO) responded to a report of a short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) swimming near shore off Hope Town, Abaco. Further reports suggested that this animal had been in this nearshore habitat for at least 4 days. Felice Knowles traveled to Hope Town and reported that the whale appeared to be in good physical condition and was observed heading offshore at the end of the encounter. From observation of these photographs, BMMRO determined that this whale is an adult male due to the large size of the dorsal fin and overall body length.

On Sunday, September 6th, 2015 BMMRO received a report of a dead stranded short-finned pilot whale on Man O’ War Cay, Abaco (see photo). After observing photographs, it was concluded that the pilot whale sighted 3 days previously was not the dead stranded whale due to its advanced state decomposition. Residents of Man O’ War Cay and Hope Town were very helpful with providing photographs and information, in particular Nancy Albury, Olivia Maura Patterson, and Lory Kenyon collected samples (skin and teeth), measurements, and photographs for BMMRO. After observing photographs provided, BMMRO concluded that the whale is an older adult as the teeth are very worn down, and likely a female given the length of the carcass. Due to advanced state of decomposition, the cause of death could not be determined. It is likely that the whale seen on Thursday, September 3rd, 2015 is a relative of the stranded animal as pilot whales do form lifelong familial bonds. No additional reports or sightings have been received since the stranding.

Note: The Bahamas Stranding Workshop will be held on Friday and Saturday, September 25th and 26th, 2015 at Atlantis. See “Events” for full details.