Marine Biologist and marine mammal medic Ian French was called out to the stranding of a small whale on the shores of Loch Ewe on Friday the 26th January. Unfortunately this turned out to be a dead stranding, probably within the last 48 hours. Initial id was thought to be a young northern bottle nose whale, later in better conditions this identification was ratified as a sowerby’s beaked whale.
The SAC at Inverness were contacted and an autopsy was carried out early on the 27th, which revealed that the female was heavily pregnant with a well developed foetus, with a pronounced melon. This has cast some doubt as to the cetaceans identity, and it may turn out to be a true’s beaked whale.
Samples were taken of all the major organs, none of which gave any clues to cause of death, in fact all signs indicate a very healthy whale. The rostrum and jaw bones were heavily smashed and shattered, maybe the whale was hit by something or maybe this was caused as it was washed ashore? The foetus, skull and tissue samples were taken back to the labs in Inverness for analysis and a second set of samples are to be taken to the Natural History Museum in London.