Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dead humpback whale netted in Channel


A French fisherman found the corpse of a humpback whale caught up in his net, excited conservationists said Monday, noting that the species is extremely rare in Channel waters.
"It's a historic moment for the region. You could count the number of humpback sightings off France over the past two centuries on your fingers," said Gerard Muger, of the Cotentin Whale Studies Group in Normandy.
Experts from France's marine mammal centre were due to inspect the catch, an emaciated adolescent weighing in at only eight tonnes, later in the day, and to determine whether it was killed by pollution or natural causes.
"The whale was already dead when it was netted, and the fisherman was skilful enough to bring it ashore travelling at a speed of only one knot in a boat only two metres longer than the animal," Mauger said.
The last humpback corpse found in the Channel, the straits separating France and southern Britain, washed ashore in 1996 in Louannec in Brittany. Fishermen claim one sighting at sea in 2006 and another in 2007.
In the Atlantic, the humpback traditionally spends spring and summer in the cold waters of the Arctic, before migrating south to the seas off west Africa to breed. Adults weigh an average of 36 metric tonnes (35 tons).

1 comment:

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