June 14, 2008

Stranded Whale Was a Rare One


By Diane Tennant

The Virginian Pilot


A rare melonheaded whale was found dead this week on Assateague Island, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center said Friday.

The aquarium's Stranding Response Team could not immediately determine a cause of death. The species is thought to be a tropical deep-diving whale. Fewer than 20 have stranded on the mainland United States, mostly in Texas and Florida. A similar species stranded on the Maryland portion of Assateague Island in 1984.

The adult male, which washed ashore Tuesday, was 8 feet long and weighed 346 pounds. The skeleton and tissue samples will be donated to the Smithsonian Institution.

Dead or live stranded marine mammals or sea turtles should be reported to the stranding program's 24-hour hot line at (757) 437- 6159.

Originally published by BY DIANE TENNANT.

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