|Articles on this page with permission from GREG WANE, are taken from the Barwon Heads,Ocean Grove, and Wallington news .||Issn 13290371|
Published by Whistler Publishing
PO. Box 358, Ocean Grove
Editor Greg Wayne
Whale's Death baffles marine experts
An autopsy conducted on the dwarf sperm whale found on Breamlea Beach last month has failed to indicate a cause of
death. Tests revealed the sub-adult female had congestion in the lungs although this was thought to have resulted from the whale
beaching itself and taking in water in the rough surf.
But the autopsy did confirm that death was not caused by any foreign object (plastic bags, bottles etc.) which the whale may have digested.
Patrick O'Callaghan, Manager at the Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute in Queenscliff said very little is known about the dwarf sperm whale and
its close relative the pygmy sperm whale, which made it difficult to determine why the whale died.
The autopsy was carried out at Melbourne Zoo after the whale died soon after being moved to a special tank at the Marine and Freshwater Institute at Queenscliff.
The rescue operation began nine hours earlier, just before 9am, on Friday 13 August when Marine Education Officer Alex Giannuzzi and a group of students from Chanel College arrived at Breamlea Beach for a dune revegetation program.
"When we found her she was right out of the water on the sand. We managed to get her back into the water and the students waded into the shallows and supported her while we waited for advice from the Department of Conservation and Sea World in Queensland. "Whale experts from Sea World advised that we should move her out of the rough surf and into calmer waters,"Alex said.
It was decided to move the whale to the Barwon River estuary and Barwon Coast provided a tray utility to transport the 2.2 metre whale.
"She was placed on the back of the ute with lots of wet towels and buckets of water to keep her wet during the short trip back to Barwon Heads," Alex said.
Carefully placed back in the water at the boat ramp in Flinders Parade, the whale was supported in a special hammock throughout the day by teams of volunteers who set up a relay system.
Dozens of people were attracted to the beach to watch as volunteers arrived. The rescue also attracted the attention of two television networks.
Melbourne Zoo vets examined the whale and administered antibiotics. The whale had suffered superficial wounds from being tossed around in the shallows by the rough surf.
The vets also noted that it had a very thin blubber layer an indication of malnourishment, but give no other indication as to why it had beached itself.
Julie Murphy, senior education officer from the Marine Discovery Center, spoke to the large crowd of onlookers, who had gathered to watch the rescue. She talked about the whale, its type and what progress rescuers were making.
Finally it was decided to move the whale to a special tank at Queenscliff where it died at about 6pm.
Alex Giannuzzi said she was saddened when she learned the whale had died, yet she was gratified by the response of the people in the region.
"An enormous thank you to all the people who helped during the day. Maybe there was no hope from the start, but it was just fantastic to see how the community all got together and selflessly went out into the water, which was absolutely freezing, and did their best to try and help save this amazing creature," she said.