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N. Sivasothi,
a.k.a. Otterman,
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Wed 15 Jun 2005

Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin carcass on Labrador Beach

Category : marine

Wednesday morning (15 Jun 2005) - NEA and NPArks contractors cleaning the park and floatsam at Labrador Park found the decomposed carcass of a Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin (Sousa chinensis) on the beach.

They checked with the National Park Board who tried calling me at the Raffles Museum - they know that we had previously retrieved or received dugongs, pangolins, leopard cats and blue-winged pittas - all important testimony to the secret fauna that still inhabits our seas, coastlines and forests. [See "The Bodysnatchers," by N. Sivasothi. Raffles Museum Newsletter No. 2 (2002) - pdf]

Unfortunately I was uncontactable (away and handphone on silent mode) so museum staff said they could dispose of the carcass! (*Insert sound of me screaming here.*) With flies descending on a badly smelling carcass, and a gathering crowd of curious park visitors already turing up their noses at the smell, NEA didn't hesitate and efficiently disposed of it, after taking the photos you see here.

When I found out at 2pm, I called NParks and NEA and they helpfully made the necessary phone calls. Within minutes, new got back to me that the NEA contractor had already disposed of the carcass; we were too late this time. Well at least everyone tried.

This was a real pity since a carcass can provide tissue, bones and organs for study. In fact, a decomposed specimen allows for easy extraction of skull and bones - in 2001, Zeehan Jaafar and I were able to extract a Dugong (sea cow) skull in just one hour because it had been dead for five days! I must add it was extremely smelly work. It now greets you when you enter the Raffles Museum's Public Gallery.

We also use the skull and bones for measurements, for public education programmes and for display. Quite a lot of uses, huh? Call me (Sivasothi a.k.a Otterman) at the Raffles Museum at 6874-5082 if you encounter a dead marine mammal or bird in future; I'm interested!

Photos by Victor Hoa, National Environment Agency. More photos in the flickr album.

Posted at 8:04AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news