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Keywords:

  • entrapment;
  • stranding;
  • starvation;
  • emaciation;
  • alkaline phosphatase;
  • catabolism;
  • pygmy Bryde's whale;
  • Balaenoptera edeni

Abstract

A Bryde's whale, Balaenoptera edeni, was rescued after having been entrapped in the Manning River, Australia, for 100 d. Blood, skin, and epidermal tissue were analyzed to determine the whale's taxonomic status, gender, and health. This paper reports the results of these analyses and discusses the findings in relation to the potential physiological damage to the whale from its protracted stay in the river. Molecular genetic analysis of epidermal tissue identified the whale as a male of the rare pygmy form of Bryde's whale. The 10.3-m whale was diagnosed as emaciated, parasitized, under stress, and in a state of profound catabolism at the time of its rescue. Although it had greatly depleted its energy reserves, the whale was rescued from the river before the onset of ill health or irreparable physiological damage. No organ dysfunction was evident with the possible exception of some deterioration in kidney function most likely caused by parasitism. The whale swam away srongly on release, and its chances of survival appeared to be good.