Mike & Winston
Mike and Winston are volunteers with the American Cetacean Society near
Los Angeles. They have participated in the counting of migrating whales
for several years. They share these comments and photos about whale wounds:
was probably hit by a boat, or had been entangled in some fishing nets.
Note the V shape cut on its peduncle (tail stock ). The ACS/LA
Gray whale census sighted a similar wound on a mother's back. It was
a huge wound in her right side from just in front of the dorsal ridges down
the side of the peduncle for at least two feet. The wound was white with
lots of lice around it. From the left side it looked like a chunk had been
taken from her back. The wound did, however, appear to be on the mend. Because
the gray whale migrates close to shore, it is more likely than other whales
to get these types of injuries."
"While observing the migrating Gray whales, we occasionally come
across injured whales. Some have very major wounds like this one.
This! Study the Fluke
"Some injuries are minor. If you look carefully at
the fluke (tail) edges on this photo, it appears that something has been
taking bites out of it. What do you think the culprit is? Write or draw
your predictions in your journal before reading on.
you are thinking Orca (killer whales) you would likely be wrong. Although
some Orcas are known to attack and eat other marine mammals, these wounds
are more likely to be done by a 10-inch long shark, known as a "Cookie-Cutter
Shark" (Isistius brasiliensis). The Cookie-cutter Shark is
named after the neat cookie-shaped wounds that it leaves on the bodies
of larger fishes and marine mammals. It does this by attaching itself
to its prey with its suctorial lips, and then spins to cut out a cookie-shaped
plug of flesh."
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