Hexbyte Glen Cove Ailing whale found near Athens returns to deeper waters

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Wildlife guards and lifeguards try to help the Cuvier’s beaked whale that washed up near Athens.

An ailing young whale found near the coast of Athens in a rare sighting has returned to deeper waters after receiving medication, Greek officials said on Saturday.

The male Cuvier’s beaked whale is now swimming near the southern island of Salamis, deputy environment minister Georgios Amyras told state TV ERT, adding that its condition remained precarious.

The dolphin-like whale, which normally lives in waters more than 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) deep, was first spotted near the Athens coast on Thursday.

On Friday, wildlife experts and lifeguards were mobilised after it reached the shallows of a popular beach in the Athens suburb of Palio Faliro.

The whale was hydrated and given antibiotics and after several hours it was escorted to the open sea late on Friday, Amyras said.

“This is a deep sea animal…the longer it stays in shallow waters, the greater the damage to its health,” he said.

Cuvier’s beaked whales can dive up to 4,000 metres and usually grow to up to seven metres (23 feet) in length.

Natascha Komninou, a professor at the University of Thessaloniki and head of the Arion cetacean rescue centre, told Skai TV the whale had a badly wounded lower jaw and blood tests showed it suffered from anaemia.

“With such a major injury, things are difficult,” she said.

Cuvier’s beaked whales often fall prey to ship propellers, but they are also acutely sensitive to “noise pollution” from , Komninou added.

Alexandros Frantzis, a at the non-profit Pelagos Institute, this week said the whale could have become disoriented due to ongoing seismic research for hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Kyparissia in western Greece, one of the mammal’s main habitats.

“It’s one of the four most important habitats in the world for these animals.”

“We are destroying their home…for hydrocarbons,” Frantzis told ERT.

Although sightings of live are extremely unusual in Athens, whale carcasses occasionally wash up, mainly in the Greek .

A dead Cuvier’s beaked whale was discovered on a near Crete in 2016, and another one was found on the island of Naxos the following year.

© 2022 AFP

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Bones of whale extinct for 300 years that were once stored in North Carolina couple’s garage are headed for Smithsonian

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

A couple walking on a North Carolina beach made a rare discovery that could help researchers solve mysteries from long ago.

Rita and Tom McCabe were used to finding shells during their walks on West Onslow Beach in the 1970s—but then they started stumbling upon large bones. After years of keeping the remains in their garage, the couple gave them to the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

It turns out, the bones belonged to a extinct for about 300 years.

“We grew very excited because there was very little scientific information on the North Atlantic because it was no longer here,” David Webster, a longtime professor and senior associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences at UNCW, said in a news release.

The whale specimen—believed to be the “most complete” of its kind—found a new home at UNCW, where it remained for decades.

Now officials say the bones began a new chapter at the Smithsonian in late 2021.

Webster said he thinks the couple, who have both since died, would find joy in knowing their collection could continue to help researchers.

“I’m sure they are just tickled pink,” he said in the news release. “They are probably saying, ‘Can you believe it? We made it big time.'”

The Smithsonian said it hopes the donated specimen will help offer clues about North Atlantic gray whales and what life was like hundreds of years ago.

“Specimens like these, tie to place and time,” Nicholas Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the National Museum of Natural History, said in a Smithsonian Ocean article. “They tell us how the world once was.”

The museum will have the bones on display, according to UNCW. But getting the massive load more than 300 miles from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., was no easy feat.

The bones were loaded onto a van that “looked more like a minibus” and were cushioned with “layers and layers of bubble wrap,” David Bohaska, a vertebrate paleontology collections specialist, told Smithsonian Ocean.

The journey was reminiscent of the time the couple first dropped the bones off at UNCW.

“They drove a small Chevy S10 pickup truck to campus, and they had bones hanging out all over the place,” Webster said in the news release for the school, which today has about 18,000 students.

After initially thinking the specimen was a humpback whale, researchers said closer examination revealed a more rare surprise. The bones have stains that helped them determine where the animal may have been.

“UNCW researchers discovered through radiocarbon tests that the bones are hundreds of years old and probably washed ashore after the young whale died of during a migration period,” the college said. “They theorize that the carcass floated into the New River Inlet and ended up in the nearby salt marshes.”

The remains, found along West Onslow Beach near the Camp Lejeune military base, also have marks that indicate Native Americans may have butchered the whale after it died, UNCW professor David La Vere said in the news release.

North Atlantic gray weighed up to 90,000 pounds and were found in the northern part of the world before they were last seen in the 1700s. Though the exact cause of their extinction isn’t known, their habitats near the shore made them vulnerable to whaling, the Smithsonian Ocean website said.

2022 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Bones of whale extinct for 300 years that were once stored in North Carolina couple’s garage are headed for Smithsonian (2022, January 12)

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