Endangered Whale’s Teeth Stolen in Canada, Animal Rights Activists Outraged

By @snksounak on
Animal caretaker Amy Walton plays with Moana, a 16-month-old killer whale, in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes
Animal caretaker Amy Walton plays with Moana, a 16-month-old killer whale, in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes July 31, 2012. Watson is the sole trainer of Moana, a male which measures 3m50 and weighs some 800 kg, which was born at the park in March 2011. Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Canadian animal rights activists are furious to know that some had sawed off the teeth of a beached whale. The incident took place in Comox Valley of British Columbia.

The dead orca whale, which researchers named as "Rhapsody," went through an autopsy on Saturday, December 6 that revealed that the 18-year-old had been pregnant during her death. According to the Victoria Marine Science Association's Marcie Callewaert, stealing the teeth of the endangered species was a "crime." "Someone last night, selfishly, cruelly, illegally cut off several teeth from her," CTV News quoted Callewaert, "It's a crime against her and the respect to Rhapsody." She also called the action as a crime against science.

The Pacific Marine Mammal Co-ordinator Paul Cottrell said that it might take several weeks to find out who had been responsible for the crime even though the investigation had already started. Jean Rowe, a bystander who was one of the first ones to find out the four teeth of Rhapsody were missing, said that those had been removed with a saw. Rowe said that it was "disrespectful" as the person(s) responsible for it did not show any respect for the whale, for the species and for The Department of Fisheries and Oceans while pathologists and biologists tried doing their job. She said that there should have been vigil set overnight.

The deceased orca, traced by the number J32, is being examined by top marine biologists from Canada and the United States. The examinations include collecting samples from her body and doing measurements. The uterus, placenta and foetus are going to be taken to Abbotsford for analysis. The whale is from the endangered "Southern residents" pod. According to researchers, Rhapsody's foetus was fully grown during her death. Researchers believe that the whale might have died while giving birth to her baby. Callewaert said that it was "heart-breaking" to see Rhapsody being dissected. She said that even though it was difficult to see Rhapsody's body parts being taken apart, the data which the researchers managed to obtain could only be achieved through her death.

Rhapsody was found floating off the coast on Thursday. She was later brought ashore.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@ibtimes.com.au

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