Monday, 1 April 2013

Scottish sperm whales - Animals not known to scientists

Giants of the sea - two strangers to Scottish waters
March 2013. Sperm whales photographed off the coast of North West Scotland recently have not been recorded in northern oceans before, confirms Dr Peter Evans, a leading cetacean scientist from the national marine research charity Sea Watch.

Sperm whale ID
Two of the five sperm whales seen between Loch Torridon and South Rona were pictured diving, enabling unique markings on their tail flukes - to be compared with a North Atlantic sperm whale catalogue of previous sightings maintained by Lisa Steiner of WhaleWatch in the Azores, but with no match.

There has also been no immediate match with sperm whales recoded in a catalogue by Marta Acosta Plata from Marine Research and Education Fund of Andenes in Norway, where sperm whales regularly summer. In addition, the pictures have also been compared with records from the Caribbean where sperm whales breed, and no matches have been found.

Dr Peter Evans said: "It is very exciting to have identifiable images of two individual sperm whales. They are rarely seen off the UK, and when they are seen they are often in waters which are too shallow for them to dive. It is only when they dive that we can photograph the flukes and see the individual markings which allow us to recognise them if they are seen again."

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