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Pilot whale washes up at Auto

The carcass of a pilot whale washed up in Auto village on Sunday. Sharks had been feasting on the whale while it floated at sea, and then once it washed ashore, somebody committed a criminal act by removing the whale’s jawbone. See story inside. [photo: Ti’otala]

The carcass of a short-finned pilot whale washed ashore during high tide at Auto village on Sunday morning.

The 15-foot whale had been dead about two weeks, and it had obviously been chomped on by sharks while it floated at sea. In fact, Marine and Wildlife Resources biologist Alden Tagarino believes three different species of sharks did some feeding on the whale carcass.

Tagarino found no evidence to explain why or how the whale died, and noted this is the second whale carcass to wash up in Sua County in the past few months. Not long ago, a small sperm whale washed up near Two Dollar Beach in Avaio. Last October, a full-sized sperm whale, 50-60 foot long, washed up in Faganeanea.

When whales die at sea, they float for a period of time and eventually sink if they do not wash ashore.

Federal law protects whales, alive or dead, and DMWR enforcement personnel are looking to retrieve the lower jaw that a villager removed from the whale that washed up Sunday.

The carcass was taken off the beach and buried Sunday before it caused problems and a bad smell. Tagarino hopes clean bones can be dug up in a year or two so the skeleton can be assembled for educational purposes.

If you see a turtle, dolphin, or whale that has washed up or needs protection, please call the Turtle and Dolphin Stranding Hotline, 733-5304



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