Stranded beaked whale died of constipation

Squid beaked whaleSquid. Photo:

Stranded beaked whale was full of squid beaks

The beaked whale found stranded on Herøy, had its stomach filled up by thousands of beaks from squid.


– It probably died of constipation, according to a biologist.

On Tuesday the whale was found dead at Warholmen near Runde Miljøsenter in Møre og Romsdal. After a beaked whale was found with its stomach filled with 29 plastic bags at Sotra in January, the biologists feared the worst; that another whale had consumed to much plastic. But this glutton had overeaten on something quite different.

– We found a few pieces of plastic, but not significant amounts. We however found thousands of beaks from squid. The digestive system was factually sealed off by squid residue, says Nils-Roar Hareide, marine biologist at the Runde Environmental Center to NTB.

Several thousands of tons of squid

A squid weighs about half a kilo. Hareide therefore believes that the whale must have consumed several tons of the species.

– Beaked whales live on the high seas and dive to incredible depths, down to 1,400 meters, and sustain on squid, says Hareide.

Squid is the most important source of food for the beaked whale, but usually the hard to digest beaks pass through the digestive system. Therefore, the biologists were astonished by the discovery. They have not heard of whales with so much many beaks in the digestive system before.

Plastics might be the culprit

Hareide says that they found few beaks near the rectum of the stranded whale.

– It may have accumulated because of constipation, and if it is due to the pieces of plastic found, we cannot tell, says Hareide.

– It was gratifying that there was not much plastic present. When whales are stranded because of plastic, it’s a huge catastrophe, according to the biologist.

– Plastic is found two out of two examined beaked whales, so probably there is plastic to be found in most of them, he concludes.


© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today