Marine biologists are investigating the deaths of no less than six whales found washed up on France’s western shores with no obvious signal of having been hit by a ship or caught in a trawler’s net.
Researchers on Monday used a mechanical digger and long knives to dissect a fin whale, the second one largest species of whale after the blue whale, taking samples they consider might reveal evidence of a viral pathogen.
In an average year, between three and, at most, 10 whales are deposited deceased on France’s beaches, they say. “We have what is nearly an epidemic or, at any rate, an bizarre spike in deaths,” said Willy Dabin, a researcher from the Pelagis Observatory.
The latest fin whale corpse was once found on Friday close Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. It measured almost 16 metres and weighed an estimated 10 tonnes.
The fin whales have all died inside the past six weeks. All have been malnourished and shown evidence of haemorrhaging in the cardiac and respiratory systems.