At dawn on June 12, RACAM (Cetacean Logging Network of the Madeira Archipelago), coordinated by the Madeira Whale Museum – Municipality of Machico, received the information of a dead sperm whale, 15 meters long, floating in the sea near the tip of Atalaia in Caniço, refers an information to the media.
Taking into account the logistical challenges of collecting and processing an animal of the reported size (up to 25 tonnes) and the risk to public health in case of beaching on a beach that is so popular, such as the Reis Magos, the coordinator of RACAM informed the maritime authorities of the difficulty that the museum would have in dealing with the animal in question, being the best option its removal to the high seas, minimising the consequences of an eventual daring. To the best of our knowledge, the maritime authority, taking advantage of the availability of a ship on the spot, made the right decision to tow the animal to the high seas, away from the coast.
Meanwhile, the Whale Museum has mobilised a team to meet the animal with the intention of confirming the species, collecting biometric data and tissue samples for scientific studies and trying to identify the cause of death. At the site, the team checked it to be an animal of about 6 meters, within the logistic capacity of the institution, of the species Humpback Whale (Bossa whale) (Megaptera novangliae). Despite the advanced state of decomposition, the animal’s body was transported to an isolated beach, where it was possible to collect some samples and recover the entire skeleton for later analysis.
Humpback whales are a rare species in the waters of Madeira, and are mainly observed briefly when the animals pass in these migrating waters. The animal in question is a calf, born last winter possibly in the breeding area of Cape Verde and migrating with the progenitor to the feeding areas, to the north. It is hoped to confirm this connection with Cape Verde by genetic analysis of the collected tissue samples. As to the cause of death, it was not possible to find any indications that determine this. Taken from FN