[MARMAM] One more atypical mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked whales in Greece (SE Crete, Hellenic Trench) during military exercise

Alexandros Frantzis afrantzis at otenet.gr
Tue Apr 1 11:43:23 PDT 2014

Dear all,

Once more we have bad news regarding Cuvier's beaked whales in the Greek 
Seas. The local population unit, which has repeatedly been affected by 
naval sonar activity of NATO or of national navies in the past may be 
steadily heading towards its extinction.

Today 1st April 2014 between 12:00 and 13:30 pm at least five Cuvier's 
beaked whales stranded atypically so far in the area of Ierapetra, SE 
Crete. Three animals stranded together in the same location and two 
other individuals stranded together some 17 km further west. Two more 
individuals stranded as single individuals 2.7 km and 500 m further west 
along the coast, but there is no way to know if these were additional 
individuals or some of those already stranded earlier. All animals were 
alive when stranded. One of them died and all other were led offshore by 
local people and not seen again until now.

After a quick search in the internet we found that the Israeli, Greek 
and US Navy are conducting a trilateral two-week military exercises in 
the area of Crete (named Noble Dina 2014). The naval activity includes 
anti-submarine warfare (ASW), which indicates the use of military sonar, 
well known as the cause of many mass strandings of Ziphiids around the 

During their 5^th Meeting of the Parties (Morocco, November 2013)the 
Agreement for the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Mediterranean and 
Black Sea (ACCOBAMS) have for first time identified on a map the areas 
where sonar should be avoided in the Mediterranean Sea, and made this 
information publicly available. One of these areas on the map is SE 
Crete where the new mass stranding occurred.

A bit earlier we contacted competent Greek authorities including the 
Greek focal point of ACCOBAMS to inform them about the new mass 
stranding and to request their intervention, so that no use of military 
sonar is made during the exercise today and following days. The 
port-police authorities and local volunteers have been alerted and we 
just hope that tomorrow we won't find more animals along the coasts.

*How many more whale deaths to spark real mitigation at the regional and 
international level?*

Best wishes,


Dr. Alexandros Frantzis
Scientific director
Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute
Terpsichoris 21
16671 Vouliagmeni,
Tel.: +30-210-8960108
e-mail: afrantzis at otenet.gr
website: http://www.pelagosinstitute.gr

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