Saturday, 3 April 2010

Dead porpoise River Adur, Shoreham West Sussex

I received a call late Friday evening of a dead dolphin in the river Adur at Shoreham. On close inspection I discovered that it was in fact a harbour porpoise. The porpoise was situated on the rather muddy bank of the river, about 100 metres north of the old Toll Bridge.
While the size and body shape seemed to indicate a harbour porpoise (it was in poor condition) the shape of the teeth confirmed it as a porpoise. Harbour porpoise have spade shaped teeth, rather than the pointed teeth that dolphins have.

I was able to take pics, measurements and remove a tooth and have forwarded the information to the natural history museum who record and study all UK strandings of Cetaceans. The tooth can be used to age the animal, as cetacean teeth have growth rings similar to a tree.

Infact stranded whales and dolphins in England were once classed as "Royal Fish" and were the property of the crown. This has now been taken over by the Natural History Museum of London and it is a legal requirement that all dead strandings are reported to them. There was a very high tide yesterday and the animal may have been swept into the river – however it did appear to be quite fresh (no smell). The tide was rising fast and the animal was soon covered by the river water. A sad end to a beautiful animal

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