• Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

  • Photo by William Tan

  • Photo by Rantje Allen

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Monthly Archives: January 2004

Whales Here Have a Taste for Tuna

Cuvier�s Beaked Whales (Ziphius cavirostris) have been sighted five days in a row off the point where Miguel�s Diving takes guests for diving. Our staff and local fishermen report seeing one, three, and over five whales at a time. These whales appear when schools of yellowfin tuna run along this section of the vast Tomini Bay. Fishermen say that when a whale finds the school of deep-water tuna, it signals others with a �voice� that sounds like blowing through a pipe. In the days that follow the first sighting, more whales appear. The tuna then start fleeing to the point that some even beach themselves, trying to avoid being eaten.

In Gorontalo local fishermen catch one tuna at a time by hand line. But when Cuvier�s Beaked Whales are around, many times the only thing a fisherman pulls in is the tuna�s head and a few bones. Even the eyes have been eaten! Two days ago a fisherman landed half a tuna weighing 40 kilos; a whale had eaten the rest.

Cuvier�s Beaked Whales in Indo-Pacific waters are distinctly brown. They have an under slung, goose-like mouth with two teeth protruding from the bottom lip. Adults are about six to seven meters in length. Before diving, they will arch their backs steeply. Dives last between 20 and 40 minutes and are very deep. They are only seen close to land where the continental shelf is narrow and coastal waters deep. Tomini Bay certainly qualifies with depths of over 4,000 meters. These whales typically eat deep-sea squid. And obviously tuna, fillet-style!

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