South Australian Museum Zoologist Dr Cath Kemper is urging anyone who discovers parts of a Sperm Whale that has washed up near Victor Harbor to assist with the collection effort.
A Sperm Whale carcass that has washed up off Waitpinga Cliffs will soon be in the care of the South Australian Museum.
The Museum will eventually acquire the head and skull (right, photographed by Elizabeth Steele-Collins), which are at the bottom of the cliffs in an area that is difficult to access.
Dr Kemper says other parts of the whale are likely to wash on to the shore.
“Each specimen that we collect tells us a bit more about the biology of Sperm Whales in Australia,” she says.
“If you find whale bones or pieces of flesh, contact the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) on 8553 3677, or the number for whale and dolphin stranding, 0412 708 012. DEWNR staff will then contact the SA Museum about how to best collect for the State collection.”
The South Australian Museum gathers data for the Federal Government to assist with the management of its Marine Reserves System.
The Museum’s marine mammals team is a group of experts with backgrounds in pathology and zoology. They gather information from live and dead marine mammals to be used in vital research and conservation projects, and look after the largest collection marine mammals in Australia.
The scientists work with DEWNR to co-ordinate the rescue or collection of whales and dolphins. Up to five Sperm Whales wash up on the South Australian coastline each year – many have died at sea and are heavily decomposed.
There are several instances of unintentional deaths by humans, including ship strikes and long-line entanglements.
The community near Victor Harbor are encouraged to help gather material for ongoing research, so that scientists can help us understand these magnificent creatures and how best to protect them.