Thu, Mar 21, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Two dolphins, whale stranded on east coast

MARINE POLLUTION:Debris eaten by a pregnant whale likely did not affect its ability to eat, although it must have impaired its physiology, the OCA said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Researchers measure a Cuvier’s beaked whale that washed onto the Chongde coast in Hualien County’s Sioulin Township on Friday last week.

Photo courtesy of the Ocean Conservation Administration

Two dolphins and a whale were found stranded on the east coast over the past week, the Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA) said yesterday, adding that the whale had been pregnant and had consumed a large amount of plastic waste.

The agency said that it worked with National Taiwan University veterinarians to perform autopsies, during which it found no significant connection between the three cases, ruling out the possibility of a mass stranding.

The carcass of a young male pantropical spotted dolphin measuring about 1.72m in length was found on the Chongde (崇德) coast in Hualien County’s Sioulin Township (秀林) on Wednesday last week, it said.

It had been dead for a while and some of its fins had been bitten off by stray dogs, but there were no other apparent injuries, the agency said, adding that the cause of death was not yet clear.

Two days later, a 5.65m-long female Cuvier’s beaked whale was found on the same coast, it said, adding that a postmortem found that its three stomach chambers were filled with four gunny sacks, six plastic bags, two fishing lines and several pieces of debris.

The agency said that it could not conclude whether the whale had died from consuming too much garbage before more information regarding the autopsy is made available.

The whale had probably not lost its ability to consume food, given that there was some squid in its stomach, but the indigestible trash must have exerted huge pressure on its physiological functioning, it said.

An unborn whale measuring 1.65m died with the whale, the agency said, adding that its body would be preserved in a freezer to be studied.

On Friday last week, a Risso’s dolphin was stranded on the beach of Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功).

Its body would be dissected tomorrow, OCA senior specialist Ko Yuan-chuan (柯勇全) said.

The three cases coincide with another incident reported in the Philippines last week, when nearly 40kg of waste was found in the stomach of a Cuvier’s beaked whale.

The cases show that marine garbage poses a great threat to marine life, the agency said, calling for more efforts to reduce plastic pollution and improve the marine environment.

There are usually more strandings reported in spring, and in two weeks the agency is to publish accumulated data about stranded whales, dolphins and sea turtles on the nation’s coasts, Ko said.

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