June 12, 2024

First Stranding of Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris) on the Danish North Sea Coast


Aage Kristian Olsen Alstrup, Charlotte Bie Thøstesen, Peter Teglberg Madsen, Heidi Huus Petersen, Tim Kåre Jensen, Morten Tange Olsen, and Carl Chr. Kinze


Document: Article
Abstract: Herein, the biometrics, body condition, and veterinary findings from the first stranding of a Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris; Cuvier, 1823) in Denmark are described. It was an adult male with a single tooth (the right was missing). The animal appeared to be well fed and had a body length of 581 cm and a total weight of approximately 2,500 kg. During dissection, we recorded the mass of the bones, blubber, muscle, and organs, which to our knowledge are the first to be published for this species. The back was covered with linear, parallel scarring likely caused by male–male competition. In addition, scattered scars were found in the skin derived from cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis) bites. Multiple small abscesses were found in the blubber, probably due to parasites. Histopathologically, the lungs were characterized by mild purulent pneumonia, and the liver revealed hepatic steatosis. Clostridium sardiniensis and Paeniclostridium sordellii were observed in the lungs and liver. The gastrointestinal tract contained only traces of food and two smaller pieces of plastic in the first stomach chamber. Nematode parasites were found in the intestines. Sexual organs indicated full maturity. Both kidneys showed moderate infestation, with the nematode Crassicauda crassicauda forming calcified granulomas. The exact cause of death was unknown, but the whale was ill with purulent pneumonia and an agonal septicemia. We did not find any evidence of gas or fat emboli. Furthermore, it can be speculated that storms or noise exposure may have led the whale astray, eventually causing its stranding within the so-called “North Sea Trap.” The stranding reported contributed to a pattern of increased Cuvier’s beaked whale strandings in the North Sea area, suggesting a recent northerly shift of its range, perhaps due to the climate-induced range shift of its squid prey.
Key Words: stranding, necropsy, North Sea Trap, Cuvier’s beaked whale, Ziphius cavirostris
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.47.3.2021.303
Page Numbers: 303-310

Info SKU: Vol__47__Iss__3__Alstrup Category: