31.10.2016 – Life on a whale’s skin
Once more we were lucky to find sperm whales today. A subgroup of three whales allowed us to approach. We switched the engines off and drifted towards each other. At one point, one whale was only a meter removed We could clearly see that there were many small crabs attached to his skin. The crabs are hitchhiking through the ocean this way, going from feeding place to feeding place. They also receive protection. Because who is gonna attack you when you are attached to a giant sperm whale? But these few crabs are nothing compared to the barnacles attached to the bacnacles of grey whales and humpback whales, which together weigh up to 500 kilos. We also saw some pieces of shed skin floating around in the water. Scientists sometimes pick these pieces of skin out of the water, to examine the genome (organisms complete set of DNA) of live sperm whales.
My colleague Fatima came across a whale with big indents on its back. This could potentially result from an old injury (e.g. a shark attack or strike from boat propellers), malnutrition, a shark attack or a developmental problem. Let’s hope that this whale has a long and healthy life in front of him.
By Judith Kok
10.00: Common Dolphins
15.00: Sperm whales
10.00: Common Dolphins, Sperm Whales
14.30: Sperm Whales