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Cetacean Notes. I. Sei and Rorqual Whales on the Mississippi Coast, A Correction. II. A Dwarf Sperm Whale in Mississippi Sound and Its Helminth Parasites

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I. Gunter and Christmas (1973) described the events leading to the stranding of a baleen whale on Ship Island, Mississippi, in 1968, giving the species as Balaenoptera physalus, the Rorqual. Unfortunately the identification was in error, but fortunately good photographs were shown. The underside of the tail was a splotched white, but there was no black margin. The specimen also had fewer throat and belly grooves than the Rorqual, as a comparison with True’s (1904) photograph shows. Dr. James Mead (in litt.) pointed out that the animal was a Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis. This remains a new Mississippi record and according to Lowery’s (1974) count, it is the fifth specimen reported from the Gulf of Mexico. The stranding of a sixth Sei Whale on Anclote Keys in the Gulf, west of Tarpon Springs, Florida on 30 May 1974, was reported in the newspapers and by the Smithsonian Institution (1974).

II. Gunter, Hubbs and Beal (1955) gave measurements on a Pygmy Sperm Whale, Kogia breviceps, which stranded on Mustang Island on the Texas coast and commented upon the recorded variations of proportional measurements in this species. Then according to Raun, Hoese and Moseley (1970) these questions were resolved by Handley (1966), who showed that a second species, Kogia simus, the Dwarf Sperm Whale, is also present in the western North Atlantic. Handley’s argument is based on skull comparisons and it seems to be rather indubitable. According to Raun et al. (op. cit.), the stranding of a species of Kogia on Galveston Island recorded by Caldwell, Ingles and Siebenaler (1960) was K. simus. They also say that Caldwell (in litt.) had previously come to the same conclusion. Caldwell et al. also recorded another specimen from Destin, Florida, which is now considered to have been a specimen of simus. The known status of these two little sperm whales in the Gulf is summarized by Lowery (op. cit.).

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