The Cuvier’s beaked whale saga seems to be endless! After the previous two group strandings (see the following posts – 1 & 2 – previously published on this blog) other animals washed ashore along the coast of the island of Corfu during the past two days. I received the new earlier this morning from my friend and colleague ML, from Greece, and just a few hours ago the news was confirmed, again through the MARMAM mailing list, by Dr. Alexandros Frantzis from the Pelagos Instiute.
The final number of stranded animals is, so far, 9 or 10 but we can not exclude, as highlighted by Dr. Frantzis, that there could be more animals drifting around in the pelagic waters far from the coast, that will never reach the mainland. As expressed by Dr. Frantzis himself, “the local and apparently small Ionian population unit has suffered three stranding events coinciding in time and space with use of military sonar in the past (plus one in east Sicily earlier this year). There should be little doubt (if any) that the cumulative damage at the population level is high.”
Here it follows Dr. Frantzis message:
This is to let you know that more animals have stranded along the west coasts of Corfu during the last two days. Yesterday, 6 December three more animals stranded along the coasts. Two of them stranded in the same beach and one stranded alone 9.3 km further north. Today, one more animal was found in another beach.
All new animals were found dead (in contrast to previous ones) and their decomposition state indicates that their death occurred approximately at the same time with the animals found stranded the 30 November. All new stranding positions were spread between the northern and southern positions that we had already reported. Efforts are made by Dr. A. Komnenou (School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Thessaloniki) to co-ordinate local veterinarians in order to collect tissue samples from the new animals.
The number of whales involved in the mass stranding, which have been recorded so far, is seven or eight for Corfu (Greece) plus two in Italy. It is reasonable to think that there are more animals in the pelagic waters of the Ionian Sea, which may never reach the coasts. The local and apparently small Ionian population unit has suffered three stranding events coinciding in time and space with use of military sonar in the past (plus one in east Sicily earlier this year). There should be little doubt (if any) that the cumulative damage at the population level is high.