[MARMAM] Rare atypical mass stranding of sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara disciara at gmail.com
Sat Dec 12 08:15:03 PST 2009

Between Thursday 10 and Friday 11 December a  pod of seven sperm whales 
stranded on the coast of the Gargano Peninsula (Italy), in the Southern 
Adriatic Sea.  The animals -- including several males of 10+ m - are 
scattered along a stretch of about six km of beach; five have already 
died.  Bystanders reported that two more animals were able to regain 
deep waters, however this is currently unconfirmed.

Mass strandings of sperm whales are extremely rare in the Mediterranean, 
and limited to ancient times.  These include a stranding of 16, reported 
near Mazzara del Vallo (Sicily) in 1734, and a stranding of six occurred 
near Cittanova d'Istria, northern Adriatic Sea, in 1853. 

Scientists from the Centro Studi Cetacei, the Natural History Museum of 
Milan, and the Italian universities of Bari, Padua (Sandro Mazzariol, 
also member of the ACCOBAMS emergency task force), Pavia, Siena, and Las 
Palmas (Spain), among others, are on site since this morning and 
coordinate operations and scientific analyses.  Necropsies will 
hopefully help determining whether such atypical stranding might be 
connected with the presence of specific human activities likely to be 
hazardous to cetaceans in the area.

Some photos of the mass stranding event, taken on Saturday 12th between 
10:45 AM and 1:45 PM, can be viewed from the web page below:


*Giuseppe   Notarbartolo   di   Sciara*
/Chair, ACCOBAMS Scientific Committee/
giuseppe at disciara.net  -  www.accobams.org

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