(November 28, 2020) --

Thursday 26 to Friday 27 Nov, DISL Biologists and collaborators from Gulf World Marine Institute, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge, and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies completed the necropsy of a sperm whale that first stranded last week in Mobile Bay.

The whale was a 33.5 feet long young male. The cause of stranding was not immediately determinable on gross necropsy. Samples have been sent for additional analyses such as bacterial, viral, or fungal infectIons, histology, and toxicology, among others.

More information will be shared as results are available.

Sunday addition: Thank you to everyone for the insightful questions. We will do our best to answer as many as possible. 

1. How long can the analysis take?
It usually takes a few weeks to receive results and sometimes longer depending on the tests.

2. Where do the samples go?
Some analyses are analyzed at DISL and in collaboration with local analytical facilities. Other samples are sent to expert analytical facilities around the country. 

3. What will the samples tell researchers?
The samples will provide the same types of information your doctor receives when they test you for illness. For example, blood samples can tell us about organ function, inflammatory and infectious processes, nutritional health, and more. Histology can also tell us about disease processes, and we test for a variety of common bacterial and viral infections and possible toxin or contaminant exposure among other diagnostics. 

4. What was in the stomach?
There was little content in the stomach but some remains of squid (beaks) and crustacean shell pieces (possibly crab shells). These prey are known in the sperm whale diet. 

5. What will happen with the whale's body?
Following necropsy, the whale carcass was buried at a NOAA-approved, secure location. 

Read past updates at disl.edu/news.