Dead whale beached in Denmark 'was world's oldest'

COPENHAGEN (Nov 2, 2010): A whale which died after being stranded in a Danish fjord earlier this year was 130-140 years old – making it likely the oldest known whale to date, officials said Tuesday.

The age was determined after analysis of the fin whale's carcass conducted at the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen.

Initial estimates had put the whale's age at 15 to 20 years. However, analysis of amino acids in the whale's eyes proved it was more likely to have been 130 to 140 years old, museum conservator Abdi Hedayat told the local newspaper Lokal-Bladet Budstikken.

"That makes it the world's oldest, scientifically described whale," he said.

A 116-year-old fin whale held the previous longevity record.

The beached whale was spotted in June at several locations in western Denmark before it became stranded in the Vejle Fjord. Several attempts to free the whale failed after it swam back to shallow waters.

The whale's struggle attracted hundreds of bystanders. The whale was not particularly large, measuring some 17 metres, which is seven metres shorter than the largest known fin whale.

Hedayat said the old whale might have suffered from brittleness of the bones, but that had not been established. — dpa