[MARMAM] do Kogia float or sink upon death?

Robin W Baird RWBaird at cascadiaresearch.org
Sat Nov 10 08:26:16 PST 2007


>From a review of the literature, it appears only right whales and sperm whales typically float upon death. I'm looking for information on whether freshly dead dwarf or pygmy sperm whales (Kogia) sink or float upon death, to try to interpret stranding patterns of Kogia in Hawaii. Stranded animals are often found dead on the beach, but the question is whether these animals live stranded and died before being found, moved into shallow water before dying (so that if they did die and sink immediately, the carcasses might re-float after decomposition sets in), or if they may have died offshore, floated, and were washed in to the beach? I assume that if animals die in deep water but sink, they are unlikely to re-float (see Allison et al. 1991). If anyone has experience with live strandings or net entanglements of Kogia, where animals are returned to the water but succumb or are disposed of at sea after death, or have other experience that may be relevant, please let me know.

Thanks very much,
Allison, P.A., C.R. Smith, H. Kukert, J.W. Deming, and B.A. Bennett. 1991. Deep-water taphonomy of vertebrate carcasses: a whale skeleton in the bathyal Santa Catalina Basin. Paleobiology 17:78-89.

Robin W. Baird, Ph.D.
Research Biologist
Cascadia Research Collective
218 1/2 W. 4th Avenue
Olympia, WA
98501 USA
Phone 1-360-943-7325
Fax 1-360-943-7026
e-mail: rwbaird at cascadiaresearch.org
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