CSI Walvis Bay
Sunday 12 Feb, 2012
The strandings network received a call about a dead killer whale in Swakopmund. I went out to find it, accompanied by Sandra Knop and Merlin Flaig.
The stranded animal was in fact an adult male Heaviside's dolphin and it had probably been dead for several days, judging by the discoloured and bloated state of the carcass. Heaviside's dolphins are common in the Walvis Bay area and are often mistaken for killer whales because of the white marking on their bellies, which are similar to those of killer whales. However, the difference in size of these two species (adult killer whales can be up to 8 m in length, but Heaviside's dolphins only grow to 1.75 m, making them one of the smallest, but prettiest, dolphins in the world) and the much taller dorsal fin of the killer whale makes it easy to distinguish between them. Heaviside's dolphins are found only along the Atlantic coast of Africa, between South Africa and Angola, so we are priviledged to have such a unique species along the Namibian coast. We took photographs, examined the body for clues as to how it died, and took a skin sample and several teeth for analysis. My thanks to my 'CSI team', Sandra and Merlin, for their help. Just another sunny day on the Namibian coast.