Stranded sperm whale on Stave

On the 20th of November 2012, we were notified that a sperm whale was stranded on Stave, a beach located 21km south of Andenes, on the west coast of the island. It was the first time I encountered a stranded sperm whale… it was very exciting!! It took us 20 minutes to get there, and when we arrived we didn´t see anything at first. After 5 minutes looking for it we finally found it.

For my surprise, the male sperm whale was much longer than it seemed, reaching over 15m in length (the animal was in a bad state and the backbone broken, so it was probably longer when alive, up to 16m). Its fluke was 4.15m wide. These and other measures are helpful to estimate the age of the individual.

When a whale is found stranded, the rotten smell tends to be very strong, but this was not the case (it seemed it has been dead for at least 3 weeks). Marta Acosta tries to obtain tissue samples from any stranded whale for her own research project, but unfortunately we couldn´t get any sample from this animal because of its advanced state of decomposition. Nevertheless it was a great experience!!!

(Text by Iñaki Aizpurua, photos Christian Rodriguez)