Bites on the whale

It was earlier blogged that the wounds on the whale were from cookie cutter sharks.

Te Papa’s Fish collection manager, Andrew Stewart, came to have a look and this is his expert opinion:

‘Based on where the whale came ashore, the scars are probably from the cookie cutter rather than the seal shark (a larger shark species found in colder waters).

Many marine mammals carry the scars from encounters with these sharks. They have been likened to a swarm of wasps as these sharks sometimes occur in schools.

Tuna fishermen hate them as the bites can significantly reduce the market value of their fish. Fortunately for whales, a thick layer of blubber affords some protection from these unique predators!’

3 Responses

  1. emmabest

    I’ll never look at another Brussels sprout the same way again…

    Reply
  2. Chris Paulin

    Formaldehyde was first used as a biological preservative more than a century ago. Formaldehyde is a gas consisting of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, and has a pungent smell. Because it reacts with most substances it cannot be readily isolated therefore it is available as an aqueous solution (usually 37–50% formaldehyde by weight), in methanol and known as formalin.

    It is used as a preservative to protect specimens against contamination by micro-organisms during storage and, hence prevent them from rotting. These bacteria, yeasts and moulds are always present in the air around us and even in the water we drink. Without preservatives, museum specimens, just like food, can become contaminated, leading to spoilage and decomposition.

    It is used extensively for embalming and tanning organic materials.

    (Plants and animals also produce Formaldehyde. It is even emitted in minute quantities as a by-product of certain vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, when they are cooked).

    Reply
  3. Jennifer

    What is the Formulian used for? Is it like an alcohol solution?

    Reply

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