Mysterious beaked whale strandings in Spain


News has been coming into WDCS from a varity of sources about a new mass live stranding of Cuvier's beaked whales on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. All the whales died.

Mass strandings of live beaked whales are rare and several live mass strandings have been associated with military activities including the deployment of powerful sonars (for a review, see the link to WDCS's report Oceans of Noise opposite).

It appears that this latest stranding may have been coincidental with some naval activities, but the details are not yet clear and WDCS is seeking clarification of what was happening out at sea.

Reports suggest that four Cuvier's beaked whales were been found stranded near to the town of Mojacar, on the Spanish South East coast. The first two whales stranded alive on the evening of 26 January and subsequently died; a third was discovered dead the following day, about 5 km away; the fourth was found on the 27th in Villarico. One of the females has been reported as lactating, which implies that a calf may have been lost out at sea.

Specialist pathologists have been called in, including Antonio Fernandez from the University de las Palmas de Gran Canaria, who has examined many of the beaked whales that have stranded around the Canary Islands, and elsewhere, in recent similar events. Three bodies are being examined.

WDCS is calling on the Spanish Government and European military authorities to cooperate fully in investigating this stranding.


All images courtesy of Indalo de Oz Naturalist Team