Molecular Identification of Stranded Cetaceans in Coastal China

Abstract: Drifting, stranded, or bycaught whales are often found in a decomposed state, which inhibits accurate morphological identification. Application of molecular technology is an alternative method used to identify species when decomposition is extreme. Between 2002 and 2016, six unidentified dead whales were collected in the coastal waters of China. DNA was extracted, and sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (Cytb) gene or the mitochondrial control region (D-loop) were successfully amplified for BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool) alignment to construct a phylogenetic tree for species determination. As a result, two Omura’s whales (Balaenoptera omurai), three Eden’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni edeni), and one Blainville’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) were successfully identified. This is the first record of a Blainville’s beaked whale being stranded in Jiangsu Province, China. Identification using these molecular techniques is providing new information on cetacean distribution and diversity in China.
Key Words: bycatch, cetacean diversity, Cytb, D-loop, whale carcasses
Document: Article
Page Numbers: 525-532

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