Guam- Department of Agriculture Biologist Brent Tibbatts talked to Rotary Club of Guam members today [Thursday] about the process behind getting rid of decaying marine mammals that wash up on Guam’s shores.
Tibbatts says on average, Guam gets a little over a stranding a year, such as the dead sperm whale that washed up on the Turtle Cove Reef in Yona this past June. He mentions their marine mammal stranding response includes identifying the species and collecting samples. He also says they remove the teeth and jaws from decaying animals to learn more about them and prevent people from stealing parts of it. Tibbatts notes they hope to speed up the process of decomposition in future decaying carcasses by opening them up and making them more accessible for flies to lay maggots.
“It's certainly not a pleasant thing to have to have people around,” said Tibbatts. “It smells very bad. There's health risks to humans and risks to the environment. So the quicker we can get rid of the carcass, the better. And so we have to look at all possible options to do that.”
Strandings on Guam vary from mammals 3 feet to 60 feet long. Tibbatts adds the highest number of recorded strandings in one year was documented at four.