Researchers examining whales say their organs are in good condition, but the creatures look “ very skinny ”
Marine biologists on Tuesday expressed deep concern over a wave of whale deaths on the west coast of France, amid suspicion that emaciated creatures were the victims of a viral outbreak, famine or both.
Seven of the huge marine mammals have washed up in Brittany and further on the northwest coast of France in the past six weeks The latest was found on Monday
The most recent fin whale corpse was found on Saturday near Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez It measured close to 16 meters and weighed approximately 10 tonnes
Researchers had to use power shovels and long knives to dissect rotting carcasses, which can explode if left unattended due to gas build-up.
None of the cetaceans appear to have been the victim of a collision with a vessel or fishing nets One appears to have died of natural causes
Everyone else suffered from the same apparent condition, selon Willy Dabin, researcher at the Pelagis Observatory in La Rochelle, in the West of France, in charge of stranding management and examined several whales
“All organs are in relatively good condition, except the heart and lungs, have swelling and severe congestion that leads us to suspect a viral infection”, he told the Telegraph, claiming distemper is the most likely culprit.
However, he said a viral outbreak did not appear to be the only cause of death because “they are all very skinny”
“Viruses like distemper kill very quickly and don't normally give the whale time to lose that much weight Even though we find this virus was present, we must look further », did he declare.
“We wonder if this migratory whale suffered from environmental problems, from a form of starvation that affected the health of creatures for some time, paving the way for pathogens to take hold and accelerate the peak of death”, did he declare. «He may not have found enough food in his zone”
Whales roam a large area up to 400 km off the west coast of France, around Spain, from Ireland and the United Kingdom, and have a particular penchant for feeding the continental slope which rises towards the French coast from the deep abyssal plain
Samples of all dead whales have been sent to the University of Liège in Belgium for analysis and the results are expected in the coming days
«For the moment, we have many questions and few answers», did he declare, adding that he had appealed to all European whale experts for help in obtaining data suggesting that there may be a «collapse» of the food chain.
Regarding the issue of viruses, he said they «always speak for a reason, which also applies to humans – either it's a question of population density, either of weak organisms, either both”
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Whales, France, cetaceans
News – FR – Dead whales wash up on French beaches as scientists report virus or famine
Associated title :
– Dead whales wash up on French beaches as scientists report virus or famine
– Dead whales wash up in France
– A mystery surrounds the dead whales of France &