Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Caring for Giants of the Deep

By South Australian Museum

The South Australian Museum's marine mammals team will study parts of a minke whale that has washed up at Ceduna on the state's west coast.

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Locals spotted the four-metre long whale and contacted the Museum and Environment Department.

Museum zoologist Dr Catherine Kemper says it's the first Minke Whale to wash up on South Australian shores since 1998.

"This will have enormous scientific value. We haven't had a specimen in 14 years and we will be able to determine which species of Minke Whale it is. Our studies help to define whale behaviour and often lead agencies to develop management plans."

A deep cut is present on the whale's skin, however Museum scientists have not been asked to investigate the cause of death in this case. The specimen will be delivered to the Museum on Wednesday 14 November 2012.

This case is typical of the Museum's essential role in collecting and studying important players in marine ecosystems and determining how best to preserve its delicate balance.

Whales and dolphins are close to the heart of many Australians and are symbolic of the amazing life in our oceans. When their carcasses wash up on shore, the South Australian Museum and collaborators make every attempt to study them and report findings to State and Commonwealth governments and other agencies.

The group of scientists, with backgrounds in pathology and zoology, gathers information from live and dead marine mammals to be used in vital research and conservation projects. The Museum has...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.