found stranded on the beach, a Cuvier’s whale was recovered for analysis

Immediately, they follow the protocol established for this kind of case. They begin by delimiting a perimeter around the remains so as to dissuade the curious from approaching it and coming into contact with potential diseases. One of the rescuers calls the Pelagis Observatory in La Rochelle. Specialized, among other things, in the study of marine mammals, the structure has also managed the National Stranding Network (RNE) since 1970. It is then a question of describing the individual by specifying its size, its color, the species if possible, if it is alive or not and if so its level of decomposition. That same evening, the Coved services (Collection, recovery, energy, waste) come to collect the animal and transport it to a storage area in Capbreton.

Cuvier's whale holds the record for the deepest and longest dive of any marine mammal.

Cuvier’s whale holds the record for the deepest and longest dive of any marine mammal.

Ondres lifeguard station

“Rare Event”

The next day, at 7 am, Pascal Ducasse is immediately informed. Local correspondent of the RNE in the Landes, he immediately identifies the species. “It was not a bottlenose dolphin but actually a Cuvier’s whale, also known as a beaked whale,” he explains. The subadult male, “a teenager in short” translates the specialist, measures 4.80 meters and shows no sign of accidental or other capture. “His freshness was excellent,” he adds. On the afternoon of this Tuesday, August 23, two specialists from the Pelagis Observatory proceed on site to a necropsy, the post-mortem examination performed on animals.

“After very thorough analyses, it emerged that this individual had died of natural causes. His stomach and his urogenital orifice were very parasitized and according to the traces on his body, we concluded that he had let himself drift and that he had died on the sand, ”explains Pascal Ducasse. According to him, the stranding of this species is “an extremely rare event because only 2 to 3 Cuvier’s whales are stranded each year on the beaches of the French Atlantic coast”. Species very hard to observe at sea because pelagic and therefore evolving in deep waters, the opportunity to study it is therefore low.

Cuvier’s whale is a little-known mammal. However, she holds a record, that of the deepest and longest dive of all marine mammals. In a study published in 2014 in the journal “PLOS One”, researchers observed dives of up to 2,992 meters deep. In another study, published in 2017, in the journal “Journal of experimental biology”, specialists report having observed a dive of 3 hours and 42 minutes for this animal.

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