Veterinarian Dr. Duan March and Wildlife Officer Kieran Marshall assisted government agencies to conduct a post mortem of an adult male sperm whale, which was found dead on the beach at south Ballina. This large male was 16.9m long and over 52 tonnes in weight.
No plastic was found in the stomach of the sperm whale, nor was there any sign of predation from sharks. The animal appeared to be in good body conditon, so whatever caused it to become unwell was likely an acute process. Samples were taken to test for toxicology and hopefully we provide more information on the death of this whale.
Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and largest toothed predator and it is rare for these pelagic mammals to strand.
They get their name from its spermaceti (sperm oil), was a prime target of the whaling industry that was sought after for use in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles.
If you see any marine mammals in distress call your local National Parks office.
This year our Shearwater season started in mid-April and went through to the first week of May. We worked together with NSW National Parks and Wildlife and Wires to return any fledglings that got lost to Mutton Bird Island. Mutton Bird Island is where these shearwaters start their migration journey. Some of these fledglings may have just got lost, others were just a bit too weak to carry out the journey.
When the fledglings first come in to Dolphin Marine Rescue (DMR) they go through a triage process which entails weighing and checking body condition. After this assessment, the bird is offered a solution of water and spark, which is an electrolyte solution that helps with re-hydration. Some were given a quiet place to rest and re-hydrate overnight others where just given the day before being released this was all dependent on the initial triage assessment. Any birds that were under 300g we marked so that we could see if any of the same birds were coming back into care or found deceased. We found that majority of the birds coming into care were under 300g. A fledgling over 300g has a better chance of survival, which has been assessed by other rehab facilities. Next year changes that DMR will introduce is marking birds over 300g with a different colour to the birds under 300g.
Dolphin Marine Rescue worked together with Wires and NSW National Parks and Wildlife to perform necropsies on all birds that were found deceased on Mutton Bird Island or the Coffs Harbour region. The main aim of these necropsies were to determine if any plastic had been ingested by the fledglings. Once Shearwater season had ended our Ecogroms came in to aid in the necropsy process. This was a fantastic learning opportunity for our Ecogroms, they got to aid in wildlife conservation, learn about bird anatomy and the digestion process. A large focus was also had on how rubbish, plastic and marine debris can have a devastating impact on wildlife.