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Monday 16 September 2019
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Pregnant whale washed ashore in Tobago

Source: Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA)
Source: Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA)

A pregnant whale that washed ashore at the Princess Bay in Argyle, Tobago on Tuesday morning, died from hunger.

An autopsy was done by the Marine Mammal Response team attached to the Division of Food production and fisheries.

The whale was found dead around 8.55 am behind Pablo Supermarket by fishermen. Staff from the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Division of Food Production, Forestry and Fisheries removed the mammal after a preliminary investigation.

Wildlife biologist Angela Ramsey told Newsday the animal was a young melon-headed whale. During the autopsy, she recognised it hadn’t eaten in over eight days.

“It was in distress and starved. We concluded that it would have probably become disoriented in search of food, and then the stress of pregnancy made it very fragile.”


She said some fishermen said they had seen the whale the day before in shallow waters. Ramsey said there were no physical trauma on the body to show it had been attacked or ill.

“This happens often, especially when they are in search of food. They would usually trail the fishermen when they are fishing and not realising they are getting into shallow water, and when they do, it’s difficult for them to get out.”

The whale’s dead babies were almost full-term. They were removed from the mother and preserved, Ramsey said.

In July a dead dolphin washed up at Grafton Beach. An autopsy revealed it had died of a heart attack caused by stress. Ramsey said because there was a lot of seaweed in the water, the dolphin may have had trouble swimming through.

She said, “Usually these mammals travel in groups but a few would wander off trying to find food and end up in difficulties."

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