That bat was a miserable creature when it was brought to Ecomare in February. The pipistrelle had woken up from its hibernation, but it was much too cold and it was yet unable to find any food. Ecomare employee Pierre Bonnet has all along taken care of this bat. That is not easy, because bats have to eat very often, including at night. Fortunately, the bat is in a good condition again, so well, that during the warm weather of recent days it could be released.
The sisters Nienke, Lotte and Linde had found the bat with their father in his workshop. Now that the bat would be freed, they were invited. Just before leaving the bat got one last meal, and the girls could still see the bat one final time. Then they along with Pierre and his daughter Jonne, released it, near Den Burg town.
The carcass of the sperm whale which beached in December on a sandbank near Texel has proved to be a valuable treasure-house. During the dissection of the animal by employees of Ecomare an exceptional amount of ambergris was found in its rectum. These smelly lumps are very rare and of great value to the perfume industry.
Last December the dead sperm whale washed ashore a few days after the humpback which had beached while still alive. Therefore it had hardly been in the news. The nearly 30-tonne adult male had died at sea and stranded on the Razende Bol. Sperm whales are the largest toothed whales on earth and are uncommon in the North Sea. Great was the surprise when out of the whale’s rectum came huge chunks of ambergris. It was already special to find a dead sperm whale, the discovery of the ambergris in the body made it exceptional. Normally, ambergris is defecated and therefore sometimes it is found in small quantities of no more than a few pounds on beaches. However, this sperm whale contained five chunks of ambergris with a total weight of 83 kilogram, accumulated in the rectum.
Ambergris is found only in 1 of 100 sperm whale bodies, usually in small amounts. It is not clear why some sperm whales produce ambergris and others do not. Probably in order to defecate sharp parts in their food, like cuttlefish beaks, without damage to their entrails. Healthy sperm whales spit out these cuttlefish beaks when they are in their first or second stomach. In some sperm whales there is a leak between the 2nd and 3rd stomach, causing the sharp cuttlefish beaks to go further inside the gastrointestinal tract. The irritation which the sharp beaks cause there makes the sperm whale produce ambergris as a response. Usually that is just defecated, but sometimes large quantities of amber accumulate in the rectum and cause congestion like that.
Experts from France have looked at the ambergris for Ecomare, and on the basis of their estimation of quality, the value is estimated at hundreds of thousands of euros. For scientists, this discovery is of exceptional importance. So, the amber lumps went to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Utrecht for a CT scan and X-ray examination.
The amber of the Texel sperm whale will be sold. It is too precious to exhibit it. After consultation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs it became clear that any proceeds for Ecomare could benefit the objective of Ecomare: education and information about the Wadden Sea and North Sea. A small piece of the ambergris will remain at Ecomare and will be exhibited there next to the skeleton of the sperm whale. Of the total amount of ambergris, a cast has also been made which will become a museum exhibit as well. During the next months, the whale’s skeleton will be put together. The public will be able to see that.
The minke whale was brought for examination to the University of Liège, where veterinarian Thierry Jauniaux went in search of the cause of death. The plastic bags soon gave him a clue. The plastic caused an almost complete obstruction of the digestive tract, causing the animal to be no longer able to feed; finally, starvation killed it. The stranded minke whale was remarkably thin.
For salmon and trout they existed already, fish ladders to pass dams. Threespine sticklebacks need ladders with much smaller steps. Almost 20 years ago, Forestry Texel thought about this. Through these fishways threespine sticklebacks can swim from the Wadden Sea into the Moksloot to lay their eggs in the fresh water of the Dunes of Texel. A marine threespine stickleback is twice as long and five times as heavy as a stickleback which has always lived in fresh water. Large fish lay more eggs, and are also better food for birds like spoonbills.
Females of this species are 5-9 mm long. In the Netherlands, the Aelurillus v-insignitus jumping spider is known to be a prey of Aporinellus sexmaculatus. Spider hunting wasps catch spiders as food for their larvae. The crippled prey is dragged into a 30 cm long corridor, dug 1.5 cm below the surface. Inside the prey an egg is deposited. Besides jumping spiders, possibly crab spiders and lynx spiders may be larval food as well. Aporinellus sexmaculatus is mainly known from the Dutch mainland dunes, but also from the dunes of Schouwen island in Zeeland. A different habitat for them is the area near Maastricht.
A huge ocean sunfish 1.55 meters long and 1.22 meters high! Hikers found the big fish last Tuesday on the beach of Ameland. It is a remarkable find. It does not happen every year that ocean sunfish are seen along our coast, yet this is the fourth individual in a few weeks’ time. In addition, this one was pretty big. Usually people see smaller specimens. The largest one ever in the Netherlands beached also on Ameland. That was in 1889. That animal was 2.73 meters long.
On Texel in December two dead sunfish were found on one day, one on the North Sea beach, the other one along the Wadden Sea. They were two relatively small fish of 60 and 80 centimeter. A few days later a third sunfish washed up on the beach of Domburg in Zeeland. This one was 1.13 meters long.
Yesterday, a squid beached on Ameland as well; photo here.