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Whales Stranded in Scotland

Nature volume 130, page 430 (17 September 1932) | Download Citation



SCOTLAND is favoured by the number of whales and whale carcases which are deposited upon its shores, and although this accident of position involves the expenditure of dealing with unsavoury nuisances, it has its scientific value. Accordingly a memorandum has been addressed to Scottish medical officers of health, sanitary officers, and the like, by the British Museum (Natural History), requesting the co-operation of these local officers in recording the stranding of whales, porpoises, and dolphins. Whenever a whale is stranded upon the British coast, a telegram, followed in due course by a detailed report, is sent to the Museum by the receiver of wreck or coastguard, and the Museum telegraphs to the sender to let him know whether the whole or any part of the whale is wanted, either for purposes of identification or for preservation. In this way much valuable information has been gathered in recent years regarding the cetaceans frequenting British waters and their seasonal movements; and the present memorandum aims at extending the scheme of notification. It states that as a rule af ew days' delay does not affect the condition of a stranded whale, that a small whale killed by stranding can lie on a beach for as much as three weeks without giving rise to any serious nuisance and without entailing the slightest risk of infection, and that carcases moored in the water will keep quite well for as long as seven weeks. It is also pointed out that in this matter the British Museum is working in co-operation with the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, and that an eventual sharing of the specimens between the two museums has been arranged.

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