Dead sperm whale was female adult, deep cut on body may have been caused by propeller

Back of skull and parts of the spine being exposed.
Back of skull and parts of the spine being exposed. PHOTO: REBECCA LEE / LEE KONG CHIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM FACEBOOK
Skin of the sperm whale's back.
Skin of the sperm whale's back.PHOTO: LETCHUMI MANI / LEE KONG CHIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM FACEBOOK
Ribs of the sperm whale slowly being exposed.
Ribs of the sperm whale slowly being exposed.PHOTO: JEREMY YEO / LEE KONG CHIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM FACEBOOK
Sperm whale blubber is extremely tough and difficult to cut.
Sperm whale blubber is extremely tough and difficult to cut. PHOTO: LETCHUMI MANI / LEE KONG CHIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - The bloodied carcass of a sperm whale found floating off Jurong Island on July 10 has been identified as a female adult.

Initial observations showed that the whale suffered a deep cut along its posterior half that may have been caused by a propeller, according to an update from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

When the dead whale was retrieved, the wound was still gushing blood. It is still unknown if the wound was sustained after its death or was the reason for its death.

It is believed that the whale had been dead for several days when it was discovered.

 

Measuring 10.6 metres and estimated to weigh between eight and 10 tonnes, the mammal is part of the cetacean group, which includes all species of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

It is also the only specimen from that group that scientists from Singapore have managed to get hold of in more than 100 years.

The most recent incidents of sperm whales being stranded near Singapore took place in Sarawak near Kuching in October 1995, and Phang Nga in western Thailand in August 2012.

The whale has been towed away to the Tuas Marine Transfer Station for examination.

Staff from the museum have been removing the internal organs of the whale for further research and to ascertain the cause of its death.

Other works include taking samples of its muscle tissue, which contains precious genetic information, and studying the contents of its stomach.

They are also removing its flesh to preserve the skeleton which will be displayed at the museum at the National University of Singapore.