[MARMAM] R: sperm whale tooth sample from Polynesia

g. serra ibiseremita at gmail.com
Fri Jul 13 13:55:09 PDT 2018


I have spent the past 6 years stationed in the Samoa archipelago, Polynesia.
In November 2015 I have bought from the people of a village located in the
NE coast of Upolu a tooth extracted from the carcass of a sperm whale that
had rolled few days earlier within a deep lagoon. I explored the carcass
that same day. It was still quite fresh, with a quite large tiger shark
feasting on it.


It took 1.5 years to get a CITES permission from the Samoan Govt. on
scientific grounds. I applied as a freelance researcher affiliated with the
National University of Samoa (NUS) and the Natural History Museum of
Florence, Italy. I have committed with the Samoan Govt. to do my best to get
as much scientific information as possible from this sample. I thought that
obtaining a sample from a protected pelagic species like this would not be
so simple and would be quite a unique opportunity. 


Despite I am not an expert in this field I have prepared a simple research
proposal made up of 3 objectives: 1. age the individual sperm whale, as
getting to know the age may give clues on the causes of death; 2. analyse
the inner tissue of the tooth in order to detect occurrence of any heavy
metal or radionuclides; 3. extract DNA for genetic analysis.


Please assist me to get in contact with cetacean research groups that may be
potentially interested in analysing this specimen.


Thank you.


G. Serra


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