Society for Dolphin Conservation (GRD) notified of the news
The GRD was alerted on the matter last Saturday, May 7th at 7.30pm. Fifteen minutes after Mrs N Schmidt observed a harbour porpoise in Elbkate, a dead whale washed up on the shore. Its carcass was recovered and is under examination.
Earlier that day, at 4pm, a whale carcass had been reported on the sheet piling near the pier in Waltershof. However, due to the waves, it was washed out to sea. It is unknown whether this was the same whale that subsequently washed up on the shore at 7.30pm. Whichever the case may be, an examination would be conducted to determine the cause of death.
It is likely that the whales had perished due to the activities and increased number of ships in the harbour during the Hamburg Port Anniversary celebrations.
On the hunt for twaite shad and smelt
Many small marine mammals have been sighted in the port this year. This is not only due to the public's strong support of porpoise-sighting programme, but also to the growing number of whales that follow the migratory twaite shad and smelt to their spawning grounds at the Elbe to the port of Hamburg and at the Süderelbe to Harburg.
This year, there have been several large groups comprising up to 17 animals. Many small whales travel to the shallow waters there to hunt the smelt there, five to 30 metres from the shore, said porpoise expert Denise Wenger.
Since 2007, Wenger has been studying the return of the harbour porpoises in the rivers of North Germany. Whales were first sighted in the Weser. In 2012, they were also found in the Elbe. The GRD collects data on the distribution and behaviour of the harbour porposes, and the public can support this project as citizen scientists. Sightings of harbour porpoises can be reported to the Society via a form available online [www.schweinswale.de].