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Nature News
by Marlene Harris


Summer 2001   —   Humpback Washes Ashore

A humpback whale washed ashore on a Cape Breton beach in late May and biologists have since been studying the carcass, taking tissue samples to help determine the cause of death. Whenever a whale washes ashore, such studies are undertaken. In the case of a humpback, identification of the individual is attempted as well. Each humpback whale has a distinctive pattern of markings on the underside of the tail, and through these very particular markings, much data on thousands of individuals has been compiled within a master database in the US.

While this investigation has been occurring, another is ongoing in its attempts to solve the mystery of the headless seal carcasses which were located on another beach in Cape Breton. Officials reported finding over 20 headless seals on Big Glace Bay Beach; at the time of this article, they had yet to come up with an explanation


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