Test results expected next week may show what killed whales east of Cape Cod
1st August 2003
WOODS HOLE, Mass. (AP) Samples from six whale carcasses found near Georges Bank, about 200 miles east of Cape Cod, have been sent to a South Carolina lab for testing to determine the cause of the deaths.
Through July, authorities found between six and 12 humpback whales, one fin whale and one pilot whale dead in this area, said Teri Frady, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries in the Northeast.
Two more whale carcasses were found in Canadian waters near Georges Bank this week one on Wednesday and one on Thursday. She said their deaths may be related to whatever killed the whales in U.S. waters.
The samples, which included urine, faeces, blubber, skin, and one tooth, will help determine what caused the deaths, she said.
''We'll get some information out of these samples,'' she said.
All of the animals had died between one week and one month before they were found. She said if the test results, expected by next week, are inconclusive, experts may try to pull a more recently deceased animal to shore for more complete testing.
The only other case of a cluster of dead humpbacks in the last two decades was in 1987-88, when 14 animals stranded on Cape Cod between November and January. NOAA Fisheries expert Dr. Phillip Clapham said those deaths were traced to food poisoning the whales had eaten fish with lethal levels of a naturally found algal toxin.
Frady said more data is needed before investigators will point to particular causes.