Young minke whale washes up in Ostend, expert: “Perhaps the animal lost its mother and starved to death” (Ostend)

Young minke whale washes up in Ostend, expert: “Perhaps the animal lost its mother and starved to death” (Ostend)
Young minke whale washes up in Ostend, expert: “Perhaps the animal lost its mother and starved to death” (Ostend)
--

In Ostend, shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday morning, a minke whale washed up near the Kursaal. According to Jan Haelters of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, it is a fairly young animal. “The animal has probably lost its mother.”

It was chief rescuer Jonathan Devos of the Ostend beach rescue service who had noticed the animal while floating. A short time later it washed up near the Kursaal in Ostend. The minke whale appeared to have died in the meantime. It is not clear for how long at the moment. An autopsy will have to determine that. “That is why we are transferring the minke whale to Merelbeke where an autopsy will be performed on the cadaver,” says Jan Haelters of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.

Became malnourished

Adult specimens can grow up to 9 meters in length. The washed up animal had a length of just over 3 meters. “If you know that a minke whale is born with a length of between 2.5 and 2.8 meters, then you know that this is a fairly young animal,” says Haelters. “I estimate that the mammal can be a maximum of several months to a year old. The animal is also very thin. In principle we cannot speak before the autopsy is carried out, but there is a strong suspicion that the cub has lost its mother. As a result, it probably became malnourished.” (Read more below the photo)

The minke whale was transferred for research. — © Jeffrey Roos

According to Haelters, the animal was “fresh”. “It was certainly not in a state of decomposition and that is usually the case when a minke whale washes up in our region. It occurs once every four to five years. The minke whale is a resident of the North Sea, but is not often found in our southern North Sea. It usually lives in the central or northern part of the North Sea. However, last week one was spotted by our surveillance plane. It is not clear whether that was the mother.”

Source of information

The fact that it is a specimen that has not yet decomposed offers opportunities for the research. “It is interesting to analyze the dozens of porpoises that wash up on our beaches, but this is slightly different,” says Haelters. “A baleen whale is completely different on the inside and that is interesting to research. We will of course first investigate the cause of death through an autopsy. But we will also look at the stomach contents, so there is a suspicion that it will be empty. We will also look at the internal parasites, but also at any viruses, bacteria and pollutants in the tissue. Baleen whales accumulate toxic substances in their fatty tissue. It is bringing together all data from the entire North Sea that is important. Researchers in the Netherlands, Denmark and Great Britain do the same and we then bring that data together.”

The last minke whale washed up dates from December 11, 2020 in Bredene. That animal also had an empty stomach, intestines full of parasites and two broken jaws. The animal in Ostend is the fourth specimen to wash up on our beaches in the past 25 years.

© Jeffrey Roos

© Jeffrey Roos

© Jeffrey Roos

The article is in Dutch

Belgium

Tags: Young minke whale washes Ostend expert animal lost mother starved death Ostend

-

PREV Beware of hay fever: grass pollen season has officially started | Domestic
NEXT No one in Europe provides more assists than Dries Mertens, but does he really still have a chance of being selected for the European Championship?