[MARMAM] New publication - Fatal Ingestion of Net Debris by Sperm Whales

Jeffrey Jacobsen Jeffrey.Jacobsen at humboldt.edu
Wed May 19 07:31:34 PDT 2010

Hello -
The following paper has just been assigned its page numbers and will be published in the current edition of Marine Pollution Bulletin. 

Jeff K. Jacobsen, Liam Massey, Frances Gulland.  2010.  Fatal ingestion of floating net debris by two sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus).  Marine Pollution Bulletin 60:765–767

In 2008 two male sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) stranded along the northern California coast with large amounts of fishing net scraps, rope, and other plastic debris in their stomachs. One animal
had a ruptured stomach, the other was emaciated, and gastric impaction was suspected as the cause of both deaths. There were 134 different types of nets in these two animals, all made of floating material,varying in size from 10 cm2 to about 16 m2. The variability in size and age of the pieces suggests the material was ingested from the surface as debris rather than bitten off from active gear. These strandings demonstrate that ingestion of marine debris can be fatal to large whales, in addition to the well documented entanglements known to impact these species.

The article can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0025326X or thereabouts, in the "Articles In Press" section until the move it to Vol 60 Issue 5, or by emailing me at jkj1 at humboldt.edu. 

We welcome and will compile any reports of similar events, and encourage thorough examination of stomach contents for debris, which sadly seems to be only on the increase. 

onward, jj

Jeff K Jacobsen
jkj1 at humboldt.edu
Humboldt State University 
Vertebrate Museum
Department Biological Sciences
Arcata, CA 95521

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